The impact that fraud offences have on victims will be at the heart of new tougher sentencing guidelines published yesterday.
The Sentencing Council recommends judges pass longer sentences on fraudsters who target elderly and vulnerable victims or rip off the taxman.
The guidance makes the impact on the victims, which has up to now been treated only as an aggravating factor, central to the sentencing.
For the first time guidelines have been issued for the sentencing of money laundering, with a maximum of 14 years in prison.
In 2012, 17,926 people were sentenced for fraud offences targeting individuals, businesses, the public purse and charities.
Fraud against individuals cost victims £9.1bn in 2012-3. Examples include Ponzi schemes, gangs targeting people using cashpoints, cowboy builders who rip off vulnerable older people, identity fraud and internet offences like phishing, running fake online ticket sites and duping dating site and social media users.
Private sector fraud cost business £21.2bn in 2012-3. They include employees claiming for bogus expenses, suppliers making fraudulent payment claims, 'cash for crash' scams and other insurance fraud and people falsifying mortgage applications.
Fraud targeting public money amounted to £20.6bn in 2012-3, mainly comprising tax fraud such as income tax evasion and VAT fraud, but also benefit and council tax fraud.
Fraud against the not-for-profit sector cost charities £147m in 2012-3. This took the the form of a charity employee diverting donations to their own bank account, someone conning grant funding from a charity on false pretences, or bogus charity collectors.
Sentencing Council chairman Lord Justice Treacy said: ‘Fraudsters are in it to make money, but for their victims it can mean much more than losing money. Our research with victims showed the great impact it can have on them, so the guideline puts this impact at the centre of considerations of what sentence the offender should get.’
The guideline will come into force in courts from 1 October.