EMPLOYERS, banks and individuals are being urged to remain on their guard against conmen who last year committed nearly £5 million of fraud.

KPMG's latest fraud barometer showed cases of criminal deception in Scotland totalled £4.92m in 2012, compared to £96.6m the year before.

However, much of the drop was accounted for by a single case of "superfraud" in 2011, when 17 fishermen working for Shetland Catch were found guilty of landing thousands of tons of undeclared fish.

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Ken Milliken, forensic partner for KPMG in Scotland, said that despite the fall, conmen were as active as ever.

He added: "What we are seeing is individuals looking to feather their nests through ripping off employers, banks or the Government.

"In the past few years we have become used to sophisticated frauds at eye-watering values.

"While the total value of fraud has dropped substantially in the absence of so-called fraud 'super' cases, the old-fashioned conman hasn't given up his tricks.

"Times may be tough but the data shows some people are unwilling to give up the lifestyles they have become accustomed to."

In total, Scottish courts dealt with six cases fraud in excess of £100,000 last year.

Chief among the high-profile cases was Steven Brady, 37, who received 200 hours of community service after being found guilty of cashing cheques worth £1.5m at Booker Cash and Carry in Dundee.

Other major fraud convictions involved restaurant supervisor Yiuman Poon, 48, who was jailed for 27 months after transferring £700,000 to his own account using a credit card machine at Little Chef in Dreghorn, North Ayrshire.

Businessman Mangal Dhami, 45, was jailed for three years after conning South Lanarkshire and North Ayrshire councils out of £370,000 through procurement fraud

Across the UK, the total amount of fraud in 2012 was £824m – down from a record of more than £3.5 billion in 2012.

The amount of identity fraud more than doubled in value to £26.3m from £12.3m the year before, while counterfeit goods fraud was three times the five-year average at £22.9m.

In the past 12 months the number of criminal deceptions perpetrated by fraudsters fell from 98 at the end of 2011 to 79 in the 12 months to December 2012.

However, organised crime still accounts for half of all fraud prosecuted in 2012.

Mr Milliken added: "While it's good news to see a drop in the value of fraud perpetrated, organisations should not be fooled into thinking that they can drop their guard.

"The history of KPMG's fraud barometer tells us that the trend is a rising one.

"We are simply catching our breath."