8 Latest Stats on Occupational Fraud

By Lowers & Associates,

Occupational fraud, referring to fraud caused by an organization’s own employees or executives, is among the most preventable fraud risks that a company faces. While preventable, this form of fraud is also one of the most prevalent in organizations.

To take a closer look at this phenomenon, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) performs a bi-annual report. Its latest report, the 2018 Report to the Nations, studied 2,690 cases of occupational fraud across 125 nations. In addition to exploring its impact, the report looks at various fraud detection measures and their effect on the duration of the fraud and the size of loss incurred.

The ACFE report offers the latest stats on occupational fraud to inform your risk management and fraud prevention plans. Here are 8 notable findings:

1. Occupational fraud resulted in $7B in total losses in 2017.

The ACFE report identifies three categories of fraud: asset misappropriation, corruption, and financial statement fraud. Asset misappropriation was the most common type of fraud and occurred 89% of the time. However, financial statement fraud led to much greater median losses – $800,000 versus $114K median loss in asset misappropriation.

Of all asset misappropriation cases, altering checks and payments led to the greatest median losses, but billing fraud and non-cash were nearly tied for the highest overall incidences in asset misappropriation schemes.

2. Fraud cases resulted in losses greater than $1M or more in 22% of cases.

The 2018 ACFE report indicates that most companies either lose a relatively small sum (less than $200K) or a significantly larger amount. The differences are extreme. In 55% of cases, losses were below $200K, yet nearly a quarter of businesses incurred more than $1M in losses. The total loss values in between these two extremes were relatively less common, ranging from 2% to 11% in prevalence for this cohort. Of the 2,690 fraud cases examined, the median loss was $130K.

3. 40% of fraud cases were detected by a “tip.”

Early detection is key when it comes to limiting the losses associated with occupational fraud.  According to the ACFE study, the vast majority of fraud detection (40%) comes from tips, which far surpasses the second highest detection source, internal audit (15%).

Tips can come from anyone, but generally they come from within the company. In ACFE’s report, 53% of tips were received internally whereas 32% were from an outside source. Hotlines go hand-in-hand with tips as an effective way to detect fraud. Of the companies analyzed, those with an accessible hotline detected fraud cases 46% of the time, compared to a 30% success rate for companies without hotlines.

4. 96% of occupational fraud perpetrators had no prior fraud conviction.

Detection activities should take place throughout an employee’s tenure. Only 4% of fraudsters in the ACFE’s study had a history of criminal fraud. This is important information, as a pre-hire background check is likely insufficient on its own in preventing fraud. These first-time offenders require active and effective detection efforts to continuously protect the organization.

The ACFE was able to identify the six most common behavioral tendencies shared among fraudsters:

  1. Living outside of one’s financial means.
  2. Financial hardship.
  3. Unnecessary levels of closeness to certain clients.
  4. Controlling tendencies and reluctance to delegate with others.
  5. Issues at home (e.g. divorce).
  6. “Wheeler-dealer” tendencies.

5. Data monitoring and analysis combined with surprise audits reduce fraud loss by more than 50%.

Surprise audits and data monitoring are a powerful combination according to ACFE’s 2018 findings. Together, these contributed to significant reductions in fraud loss. When in place, proactive data monitoring and surprise audits got fraud cases under control in approximately half the time. Compared to cases where these controls were not in place, it reduced fraud losses by more than half.

Despite their effectiveness, neither proactive data analysis nor surprise audits tops the list for commonly used fraud control measures, each were only used by 37% of the companies examined in the 2018 study.

6. Weak internal security was responsible for almost half of the fraud instances.

Internal security can be a valuable line of defense for companies. When companies were asked about what opened the doors to fraud, 30% cited insufficient fraud controls as the top enabler. While 19% said that their systems were too weak and therefore overly easy for fraudsters to override.

7. Fraudsters who had been employed for more than 5 years stole twice as much.

According to the ACFE, employee tenure correlates with median fraud losses. The study found that fraudsters who had been a company for more than five years stole twice as much than relatively newer employees: $200K median loss versus $100K. Employees at a company for less than a year posed notably the least risk to companies, incurring median losses of $40K.

8. Collusion between two perpetrators doubles the loss.

Collusion is common in occupational fraud: 49% of cases investigated in ACFE’s study involved more than one fraudster. This holds especially true when executives and owners are involved – occurring in 66% of cases instigated by higher ups.

The involvement of multiple perpetrators is also more costly. The median loss in cases with one perpetrator was $74K, whereas that number rose to $150K for two perpetrators, and up to $339K when three or more were involved.

When it comes to occupational fraud, prevention and detection requires ongoing, diligent efforts. Whether it’s through surprise audits or providing channels for informants to report suspicious behavior, the team at Lowers & Associates can help establish your fraud prevention plan. Talk to a risk management expert today.

  Category: Occupational Fraud
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5 Startling Facts About Human Capital Risk

By Lowers & Associates,

Human Capital Risks

People are often referred to as the greatest asset of an organization. While this may be true for your organization, the greater truth is, people also represent an organization’s greatest risks. The actions, inactions, and mere presence or influence of people, present a potential for loss across the spectrum of business activities.

Perhaps no source of risk is more perplexing, hurtful, and damaging than those caused by intentional harmful acts. Consider just a handful of startling facts:

1. 30% of business failures are due to employee theft.

Employee theft costs businesses an estimated $50 billion a year and is rising at a rate of 15 percent per year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Commerce Department and the American Management Association say that 30 percent of new business failures are due to employee theft and it is believed that 75% of employees steal from their employers at least once. (source)

2. Organizations lose 5% of revenue to ‘fraud from within.’

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), occupational fraud is fraud committed against the organization by its own officers, directors, or employees–an attack against the organization from within, by the very people who were entrusted to protect its assets and resources. In its 2018 Report to the Nations, the ACFE projects that organizations lose 5% of their annual revenue to fraud. Of these cases of fraud, corruption represents one of the most significant fraud risks for organizations, with 70% of such cases perpetrated by someone in a position of authority (managers and owner/executives).

3. Workplace violence is the fastest-growing category of murder in the U.S.

According to OSHA, every year, 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence. The Center for Applied Learning reports that workplace violence incidents have tripled in the last decade and is now the fastest-growing category of murder in the United States. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016), fatal work injuries involving violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased by 163 cases to 866 in 2016; workplace homicides increased by 83 cases to 500 in 2016; and workplace suicides increased by 62 to 291. This is the highest homicide figure since 2010 and the most suicides since data collection began in 1992.

4. One in five American adults have experienced sexual harassment at work.

A CNBC survey found one-fifth of American adults have experienced sexual harassment at work. By age group, 16 percent of those ages 18 to 34 said they have been victims, while 25 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds say they have been. What’s more, according to a 2003 EEOC study, 75 percent of employees who spoke out against workplace mistreatment faced some form of retaliation.

5. 80% of active shooter incidents occur in the workplace.

The Center for Applied Learning reports active shooter incidents tripled in the last eight years, with an event occurring in the U.S. once every three weeks; furthermore, workers are now 18 times more likely to encounter workplace violence and an active shooter situation than a fire. According to FBI statistics, of 160 active shooter incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013, over 80 percent (132) occurred at work.

Where there are people, there are risks. The actions taken by employees and even subcontractors representing your organization have a direct impact on the productivity, safety, and success of your organization. When those actions turn bad, either through negligence or intentional acts, the damage to people, brands, and profits can be significant. What are you doing to identify, prepare for, and mitigate your human capital risks?

  Category: Risk Management
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Why Now is a Great Time for a Fraud Prevention Check-up

By Lowers & Associates,

The ending of one year and beginning of a new year is a great time to give your organization a fraud prevention check-up. This natural time of reflection and renewal provides an opportunity to better protect your organization from the risks of fraud.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) suggests that a fraud check-up can save your company from disaster. Wondering how? Consider that fraud can be catastrophic, some can even put you out of business overnight. Even if survived, a major fraud can damage your company’s reputation so severely that it can be difficult, if not impossible, to recover. Performing a fraud check-up can help you pinpoint opportunities to rid your organization of fraud. It can expose your company’s vulnerabilities and allow you to take a more proactive approach to risk management.

If you’re still questioning the importance of a fraud check-up, consider the 18 fraud facts highlighted in our latest slideshow, which come from the ACFE’s Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse:

 

Tips for performing a fraud prevention check-up

The ACFE put together this fraud prevention check-up document that walks you through 7 key areas of fraud prevention. It includes fraud risk oversight, ownership, assessment, risk management policy, process, and environment-level anti-fraud controls, along with assessment factors for each. You can use the check-up to obtain a broad idea of your organization’s performance with respect to fraud prevention. Your scores/assessments across the various criteria can expose gaps that should be closed promptly in order to reduce losses and cut your risk of future disaster.

It is important to note that the ACFE recommends the check-up be performed as a collaboration between objective, independent fraud specialists, and people within the organization who have extensive knowledge about its operations.

We invite you to request a conversation with a Lowers & Associates Certified Fraud Examiner.

[Slideshow] 18 Fraud Facts to Drive Your 2018 Fraud Prevention Plan

By Lowers & Associates,

Fraud Week comes at a perfect time each year, just before the start of a new year when many organizations take a structured look at their performance over the past months, and begin to prepare for the year ahead. When it comes time to review your fraud risk management and prevention plan, it pays to have some hard statistics in front of you.

Our latest slideshow features 18 facts straight from the ACFE’s bi-annual Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse. The report can help you understand and respond to the threat of organizational fraud in your company, and the facts presented can serve as benchmarks for your organization while helping to uncover areas you may have failed to address.

How will you use these facts to create a more effective fraud prevention plan for your company in 2018?

  Category: Fraud Awareness
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Test Your Fraud Knowledge

By Lowers & Associates,

International Fraud Awareness Week begins next week. The point of Fraud Week, sponsored by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), is to raise the visibility of occupational fraud and abuse, and to remind organizations to review and improve their fraud prevention and detection capabilities.

In case you’re thinking fraud is not an issue in your organization, you should know that extrapolating from actual fraud cases examined in 2016 and reported to ACFE, organizations worldwide lose 5% of topline revenue to fraud. Virtually every type of organization from business, government to non-profit sectors is vulnerable to fraud.

How much do you know about occupational fraud and abuse with respect to your organization? Prepare for Fraud Week by trying your hand at these questions based on ACFE’s 2016 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse (answers are below):

1. Occupational frauds are most often detected in which way:

a) By accident
b) Through a management review
c) By a tip
d) By an internal audit

2. The median duration of occupational fraud is:

a) 3 months
b) 6 months
c) 18 months
d) 24 months

3. About what percentage of occupational frauds are committed by 2 or more in collusion?

a) 19%
b) 37%
c) 48%
d) 62%

4. What is the median loss to fraud?

a) $110,000
b) $150,000
c) $225,000
d) $1,000,000

5. The proportion of the 2016 fraud cases in the U.S. committed by owners or executives is:

a) 5%
b) 10%
c) 15%
d) 20%

6. The median loss to fraud for companies with less than 100 employees as compared to companies with 10,000+ employees are:

a) Much smaller
b) Proportionately smaller
c) About the same
d) Larger

7. The largest proportion of fraud is perpetrated by employees who have been with the organization:

a) Less than 1 year
b) 1 to 5 years
c) 6 to 10 years
d) More than 10 years

Answers

  1. c) By a tip. In 2016, tips were the most common detection method by a wide margin, accounting for 39.1% of cases. Hotlines were especially effective in generating tips.
  2. c) 18 months. The longer the fraud continues undetected, the higher the cost. 20% of the cases in 2016 were undetected for 36 months or longer, and cases that endured for 60+ months caused a median loss of $850,000.
  3. c) About 48%. In cases of fraud by collusion, the cost of the crime increased as more people were involved. A single fraudster caused a median $85,000 in losses, while a collaboration of 5 or more cost $833,000.
  4. b) $150,000 was the median loss. However, the average loss per case was $2.7 million, indicating that losses due to occupational fraud can be very significant.
  5. d) About 20%. Median loss due to fraud by U.S. owners or executives was far higher at $500,000 than for managers ($150,000) or employees ($54,000). Part of the difference is due to the fact that owner or executive fraud went undetected longer.
  6. c) About the same. In 2016, the median loss of a fraud case in an organization of less than 100 employees was $150,000, the same as for an organization with 10,000 or more employees. The relative impact of the loss was obviously much greater for the smaller organizations.
  7. b) 1 to 5 years. Employees are more likely to commit a fraud if they are familiar with the controls and systems in place, or when something in their circumstances changes over time. However, the median loss for a fraud increases regularly as the employee’s tenure lengthens.

You can learn a lot about occupational fraud and abuse by reading the 2016 Report to the Nations. Better yet, you can begin to see how you can improve your fraud prevention program to avoid being one of the cases in the Report.