Financial misrepresentation is the fastest growing crime among large engineering and building firms

More than 40% of engineering and construction companies have experienced economic crime in the past two years, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey.

Victims suffered an average 7.4 incidents between 2003-05. 180 companies with a typical turnover of £50m-plus from 26 countries responded to the survey.

PwC head of global engineering and construction said: "More engineering and construction companies need to focus on improving fraud controls and detection processes in order to counteract fraud at all levels."

The biggest developing crime is financial misrepresentation, whereby a client might lie to a contractor about the funding it has in place for a contract or a subbie might underbid projects and subsequently go bust. This rose from 8% to 21% on the last survey conducted in 2003.