Friday, January 21, 2011

Is fraud rocketing? Even if it isn’t, what should you do about it?

Last week Public Finance was reporting that levels of fraud rocketed during 2010. There is plenty of media coverage of fraud. This week I joined in tweeting a link to a
blog about Portsmouth University and MacIntyre Hudson’s survey of public sector fraud

It is worth emphasising that the Public Finance’s report was based on KPMG’s Fraud Barometer which tracks fraud cases in UK Crown Courts. So detected fraud is “soaring” – is actual fraud up?

Recessions, credit crunches, austerity, etc have a tendency to expose financial chicanery. Just ask Max Madoff. I am sure that Bob Maxwell would agree.

To borrow a great quote from Warren Buffett and use it in a different context:

It's only when the tide goes out that you learn who's been swimming naked.

Of course, total – detected and undetected – fraud may be up too – in line with media coverage. For example, some of the squeezed middle may resort to white collar crime in hard times. Media coverage may even have a copycat effect – MPs are not the only ones who may be susceptible to the feeling that if colleagues’ snouts are in the trough, they should no be missing out. Experts point to need, opportunity and justification driving fraud - "others doing it" offers a self-justification for some.

Organisations should treat the fraud threat seriously. They should ensure that internal audit allocate sufficient days to fraud detection using IT tools as well as addressing fraud risks as an integral part of other audit reviews.

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