Fighting Fraud in Your Organization

By Lowers & Associates,

This week, we were proud to support the ACFE’s International Fraud Awareness Week — a global effort to minimize the impact of fraud by promoting anti-fraud awareness and education. As we wrap up our Fraud Awareness Week series, Fraud Stories and Lessons Learned, it is a pleasure to end the week with a message from Jon Groussman, President of Lowers & Associates (L&A). In this video, Jon discusses why fraud happens and how L&A works with organizations to detect, investigate, and prevent it.

Watch the video here:

In its 2020 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) conducted the 11th edition of its largest global study on occupational fraud. The report examines how fraud schemes including corruption, asset misappropriation, and financial statement fraud are committed and how they are detected. It also looks at the profile of both victim organizations and perpetrators.

Some notable findings from the ACFE Report include:

  • Organizations lose an estimated 5% of revenue each year to fraud.
  • 21% of cases caused losses of $1 million or more.
  • Asset misappropriation is the most common category of fraud experienced by organizations.
  • The median duration of a fraud is 14 months.
  • Financial statement fraud has the greatest velocity (median loss per month) at $39,800 per month.
  • Most commonly, fraudsters conceal their crimes by creating or altering physical or digital documents or files.
  • Tips by employees, customers, anonymous sources, and others are the most common way fraud is initially detected.
  • 70% of fraud occurred in for-profit organizations.
  • Small businesses (those with fewer than 100 employees) had the highest median loss of $150,000.
  • Billing schemes occurred at almost twice the rate in small businesses compared to larger organizations. Check and payment tampering was nearly four times more common at small companies.
  • Corruption and noncash schemes occurred more frequently in larger organizations.
  • Only approximately half of the victim organizations in the ACFE study undertook background checks on their employees.
  • The longer a perpetrator works for a company, the more damage that person’s fraud scheme causes.
  • Manager-level perpetrators are more likely to override existing controls.
  • 85% of all fraudsters displayed at least one behavioral red flag while committing their crimes.
  • Most organizations (54%) in the ACFE study did not recover any of their losses.

Adding perspective from fellow Lowers Risk Group company, Lowers Forensics International, Henry Dicker has this to say about fighting fraud: “One thing is constant: Accounting fraud is always a surprise. Our clients say, ‘We never saw it happening.’ Solid internal controls, implemented and followed diligently, are the best deterrent to fraud. Additionally, continually maintaining and testing your internal controls, performing internal audits of high-risk areas, and monitoring non-financial measures is crucial. Forensic Accountants are a valuable resource to have on your side to help safeguard your data and investigate losses when fraud strikes.”

To discuss your fraud prevention program with an expert, we invite you to reach out to Lowers & Associates here.

Fraud Stories: Crypto Fraud

By Lowers & Associates,

“Virtual currencies, perhaps most notably Bitcoin, have captured the imagination of some, struck fear among others and confused the heck out of the rest of us — including me.” – Senator Tom Carper, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, November 2013

Today is day 2 of our Fraud Awareness Week series, Fraud Stories and Lessons Learned, and we want to highlight the rapidly emerging problem of cryptocurrency fraud. Brad Moody, EVP of Operations for Lowers & Associates, points out the rapid increase in crypto-related fraud noting that in 2016 there were only 340 active fraud cases of such fraud and by 2020, there were more than 80,000 cases in the U.S. alone.

In this fraud story, Brad explains how current schemes to capture victim organizations’ cryptocurrency are amplifying the need for effective internal controls, anti-fraud training, and third-party penetration testing.

Listen to the story here:


Interestingly, one of the best ways organizations can protect themselves from cryptocurrency fraud is through the same tried and true practices used to prevent social engineering, phishing, and other related attacks. Employees are increasingly subject to scams through email and link-sharing, so it’s important to look at how to detect and block such activity but also to train employees on how to recognize and avoid becoming victims to such scams.

David Gardiner, Senior Vice President of Lowers Forensics International, offers further advice: “Crypto based currencies are now becoming a professionally acceptable form of tender. Now more than ever, corporations need to proactively mitigate their risk and exposure. This can be done through a myriad of operating procedures including the process of facilitating not only their outbound, but even incoming payments. Strict rules of engagement, much like the protocols already used in wire transfers (verbal confirmation, dual signature authentication, etc.) should be followed here as well.”

Stay tuned tomorrow for another fraud story from the front lines of Lowers & Associates.

Fraud Stories: Fraud or Faulty Vests?

By Lowers & Associates,

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), a single case of occupational fraud costs the victim organization an average of more than $1.5 million, and Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs) estimate that organizations lose 5% of their revenues each year to fraud. In the ACFE’s 2020 Report to the Nations, a study of 2,504 cases of occupational fraud investigated by CFEs in 125 countries, the typical fraud lasted 14 months before it was detected and caused a median loss of $8,300 a month.

In an effort to educate organizations on the reality of fraud and to increase awareness of the controls that can help reduce fraud, each year the ACFE sponsors Fraud Awareness Week. Today marks day one of our Fraud Week series, Fraud Stories and Lessons Learned, and we are pleased to introduce Milton de Oca, Director of Operations for Lowers & Associates International. Prior to joining L&A, Milton served 32 years as a police officer with the Miami police department, a gangs sergeant, and finally, as the commander of the intelligence and terrorism unit.

Milton tells the story of an attempted fraud he and the L&A team helped to uncover and resolve in South America related to the procurement of ballistic vests that were to be used for dignitary protection.

Listen to the story here:


This interesting case demonstrates that fraud can come in many forms and at any level. Often it takes a considerable amount of investigation to uncover the fraud and while, in this case, we were able to exonerate the client of the loss, the ACFE reports that most organizations (54%) do not ever recover the losses they suffer at the hand of occupational fraud.

Milton advises all organizations to enlist the help of an independent outside source in cases like these in order to conduct an unbiased investigation.

Stay tuned tomorrow for another fraud story from the front lines of Lowers & Associates.

Fraud Week 2020: Lessons Learned from Real Life Stories of Fraud

By Lowers & Associates,

COFFEE BREAK SERIES: FRAUD WEEK 2020 Lessons Learned from Real-Life Stories of Fraud Neil Watson Director, Global Operations, Lowers & Associates

Think it’s too good to be true? (You’re probably right.)

This week, we have been proud to recognize and support the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ 2020 Fraud Week initiative with our special Coffee Break Series. Fraud Week is an annual movement organized by the ACFE to champion the need to proactively fight fraud and help safeguard businesses and investments from the growing fraud problem. We have shared a number of stories and lessons through the eyes of Certified Fraud Examiners and other fraud experts on our team, examining issues such as fraud detection, whistleblower programs, situational awareness, and cyberfraud.

For our final episode, we interviewed Neil Watson, Director, Global Operations for Lowers & Associates. Neil has more than 30 years’ experience in the insurance industry which includes over 20 years working within the Fine Art, Jewellery and Specie (FAJS) sector. It is through this lens that Neil shares three stories of FAJS insurance-related fraud and key lessons that can be applied to any industry:

1. Nickel Wire: Worth How Much?

In this story, Neil encounters nickel wire that was reportedly worth $300/meter and the owner was seeking to insure 6 million meters worth. If nickel wire was worth that much, wouldn’t we all be invested in it? Neil shares how some quick research revealed the ludicrousness of this attempted fraud.

2. Rubies: Really?

Neil has some great stories to tell about ruby gemstones. The usual quarterly sale of all rubies sold around the world is in the neighborhood of $40-$50 million. The highest value single ruby ever sold was $30 million. Here, he shares what it’s like to receive a fantastic photo of a stone someone is wanting to insure that is reportedly worth $250 million. Really?

3. Platinum Concentrate: Unearthing the Truth.

Neil tells the story of the great effort a group of fraudsters went through to present a compelling story of $5 billion worth of platinum concentrate they wanted to insure. The Lowers team went so far as to visit the facility only to unearth the truth of the matter.

Grab a cup of coffee and spend 8 minutes with Neil to hear three stories that will make you believe when something feels too good to be true, it probably is.



We hope you enjoyed this week’s special Fraud Week Coffee Break Series. You can access the full roundup of episodes here. At Lowers Risk Group, we’re intent on helping organizations protect their people, brands, and profits from avoidable loss and harm. If you think we can be of assistance to you, request a meeting and let’s get to work.


  Category: Fraud Week
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Fraud Week 2020: Got Situational Awareness?

By Lowers & Associates,

Fraud Week 2020: Got Situational Awareness?

Looking at the Fraud Triangle During COVID-19

Today, we continue our special 5-part Fraud Week Coffee Break Series with another episode to address important fraud prevention topics with insight from our Certified Fraud Examiners and subject matter experts. Fraud Week is an annual movement, organized by the Association for Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), to champion the need to proactively fight fraud and help safeguard businesses and investments from the growing fraud problem.

For this episode, we interviewed Carlos Rivera, CFE, MAFF, Senior Vice President – Caribbean & Latin America of Lowers Forensics International and Grant Mizel, Financial Analyst, Emerging Markets for Lowers Risk Group. Rivera and Mizel offer their insight to help us understand the importance of situational awareness to an organization’s ability to detect and prevent fraud. They point to the Fraud Triangle as a model for understanding why fraud happens, but also recognize that without situational awareness, the Fraud Triangle is meaningless.

Grab a cup of coffee and spend 7 minutes with Rivera and Mizel:

Formulated in 1953 by criminologist Donald Cressey, the Fraud Triangle theorizes that fraud occurs when a perpetrator feels financial pressure, they are presented an opportunity, and/or they can rationalize the theft. For the Fraud Triangle to be valuable, organizations must be situationally aware. What’s going on in, around, and outside your organization? Which of these internal or external factors might be impacting the opportunities, rationalizations, and incentives that can lead people to commit fraud?

As Rivera points out, “Removing separation of duties and internal audit departments certainly creates the opportunity for employees to commit fraud. However, you have to consider the financial pressure and rationalization that goes along with a national catastrophic situation. In many instances, you’ll have employees who receive salary cuts that may not only feel financial pressure but also rationalize it by claiming what they believe is rightfully theirs, or you may see an employee rationalize through necessity which I believe can be just as powerful of a motivator.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has, unfortunately, led to situations where people have less supervision, more opportunity, and way more financial pressure than before.

As a result, in its September 2020 Fraud in the Wake of COVID-19 Benchmarking Report, the ACFE reported, “77% of respondents said they had observed an increase in the overall level of fraud, with one-third noting that this increase has been significant.” Furthermore, the ACFE reports, “Our findings indicate this uptick is likely to continue; 92% of respondents expect to see a further increase in the overall level of fraud during the next year, and nearly half expect that increase to be significant.”

Mizel remarks, “You talk about the Fraud Triangle and opportunity, when you give folks the opportunity, they are most likely going to take advantage. You can head that off by putting structures in place, rigor, documentation, automated processes… when you think about the employee, it’s not strange from a fraud examiner’s perspective that someone without oversight would take advantage of the situation.”

We hope you enjoyed this Coffee Break episode. Come back tomorrow to hear from Steven Schwartz, Chief Revenue Officer of Periculus, about cyberfraud during COVID-19.

  Category: COVID-19, Fraud Week
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