We know the prevalence of occupational fraud is very high, costing organizations of all kinds an average of 5% from top line revenue every year. But what this means is that the importance of preventing these human risk frauds has a high payback, as well.
Owners and managers—employers generally—have a very strong incentive to discover every clue that exists within their own organizations to root out risky people, or at least to make it difficult for them to perpetrate frauds.
Occupational fraud is an intentional, hidden crime, sometimes not detected until years after it starts. Therefore, in order to know where to look within the organization for the potential perpetrators even before the frauds are discovered, it will help to know what characteristics fraudsters are likely to have. In other words, knowing what fraudsters are like can help improve the detection of hidden frauds, or to prevent them in the first place. … Continue reading
The 2014 edition of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) report on occupational fraud confirms and extends previous findings that fraud is a persistent threat across time and borders. Extrapolating the incidence of fraud from the 1,483 cases included in the study to the estimated world GDP, ACFE estimates that occupational fraud cost as much as $3.7 trillion in 2013.
The report classifies occupational fraud into three broad categories:
- Corruption—such as bribery, conflicts of interest, and extortion
- Asset misappropriation—such as theft of cash, fraudulent disbursements, and inventory manipulation
- Financial statement fraud
Of these, asset misappropriation is the most common, but results in the smallest median loss of $130,000 per case. Financial statement fraud is relatively uncommon, but results in a median loss of over $1 million. … Continue reading
As an experienced corporate investigator, having investigated hundreds of various types of fraud cases, it’s really not hard to come to the conclusion that where there is smoke there is usually fire and often times in more than one place. When a client or an individual is alerted to suspicious behavior by an employee/contractor, the investigation generally must focus on the specific allegations. However, it is also important to use the initial investigation opportunity to open a broader review into the suspect for two main reasons:
- To look for motivating factors (a motive); and
- To determine, if he/she may be committing fraud or deviant behavior in other areas not specific to the case. After all, if the individual is involved in some form of fraud or deviant behavior that we are aware of, it is highly probable this extends to other areas as well.
According to the widely accepted Fraud Triangle model developed by Donald Cressey, “…individuals are motivated to commit fraud when three elements come together: 1) some kind of perceived pressure, 2) some perceived opportunity, and 3) some way to rationalize the fraud as not being inconsistent with one’s values.” One of the reasons for opening a broader investigation and not just focusing on the specific allegations is to look for motivating factors or pressure(s) the person may be under that might drive him/her to commit the fraud. People often say “I would never do that” but when faced with varying degrees of perceived pressure, it is difficult to determine the lengths people will actually go to in committing fraud. … Continue reading
Big Data is becoming a resource in the fraud fighter’s arsenal as more companies are using data analytic software to look for anomalous patterns in internal data. This method has helped some companies monitor more data sources, cutting the time for detection and reducing the costs of fraud.
A recent post by Peter Goldmann of ACFE reports on the rate of adoption of data analytic technology, finding that the largest group is companies that have no data analysis program at all (almost 30%–see the bar graph). … Continue reading
Despite the wealth of well-publicized information about the high prevalence of organizational fraud and the high costs of fraud, it is always surprising to learn that so many companies operate without systematic fraud prevention programs, or fail to review their programs on a regular basis.
In fact, there are very important reasons fraud prevention is worth the effort. Here are some of them: … Continue reading