As the economy takes a downturn, employers may be faced with higher levels of workplace fraud, according to KPMG.

The accountancy firm has warned that employees struggling with debt may be more likely to commit fraud during the current economic climate, the BBC reports.

It also pointed out that fraud among managers is likely to increase as bosses falsify figures to make business performance appear better than it is.

Hitesh Patel, forensic partner at the firm, said: "The fear is that we will not see the real and full fraud impact of the crunch for another six or 12 months or even more, as businesses start to take a closer look at their operations in this difficult economic climate."

He urged businesses to adopt an anti-fraud culture whereby financial documents are signed off by several people and whistle-blowing hotlines are set up allowing employees to report any concerns.

Meanwhile, a survey by Norwich Union shows that 17 per cent of employees have admitted stealing stationery and toilet rolls from work and fiddling expense claims during the credit crunch.