Cash-strapped British taxpayers fork out an extra £765 for goods and services every year because of fraudsters, according to new figures.
The National Fraud Authority (NFA) said cheats carve an annual £38 billion hole in Britain’s finances.
The watchdog’s second annual fraud indicator found crooks swindled the public sector out of £21 billion, more than half of total losses.
Meanwhile the private sector lost £12 billion, individuals £4 billion and charities £1.3 billion to frauds from marketing scams to bogus operators.
Officials said if the cost of fraud was broken down individually it would leave every adult with a bill for £765 in increased prices.
The second Annual Fraud Indicator showed the total cost of fraud has increased by more than £8 billion from £30 billion last year.
But researchers said the two surveys were not directly comparable because the latest figures include some areas of fraud for the first time.
They added that the size of public sector fraud reflects better reporting procedures and remains a relatively small proportion of total spending.
Bernard Herdan of the NFA said the research was a “blueprint” for work to tackle the “rising tide” of fraud.
He added that everyone can play their part in protecting themselves from fraud and sharing information on suspicious behaviour with the authorities.