A study from the University of Portsmouth found fewer than two per cent of people who are caught committing fraud are dealt with by the criminal justice system.
This totals 15,696 fraud offenders in 2014-15, with 162,869 accounting for action over TV licence evasion.
Instead, private bodies including fraudster registers and regulatory bodies are taking action.
Principal investigator Professor Mark Button said: ‘This research highlights that the criminal justice system plays only a small role dealing with fraud-related cases and the vast majority are dealt with by other public and private regulators.’
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The NHS issued 606,063 penalty notices against those wrongly claiming exemption from charges, the study found.
At least 135,485 people who made fraudulent credit or employment applications were added to private databases.