Well-educated men in their 30s from middle management are the most likely perpetrators of internal fraud, a survey of Australian firms shows.

PricewaterhouseCoopers' 2014 Global Economic Crime Survey found Australian organisations reported more crime than its global counterparts.

However, this was probably because Australia took the matter more seriously rather than a sign it has more corporate crime, the survey's authors say.

More than half of the 1,000 firms that took part in the biennial survey reported some form of internal or external crime, including cyber attacks and theft, in the past two years compared to 47 per cent two years ago.

Internal fraudsters were increasingly from middle management - 65 per cent in 2014, compared to 45 per cent in 2012 - and aged between 31 and 40.

They were also more qualified, with nearly a third having university degrees (up 10 per cent) and were primarily men (57 per cent).

However the number of female fraudsters is also on the rise, increasing from 25 per cent to 39 per cent.

Asset and cash theft were the biggest offences, followed by cybercrime, procurement fraud, accounting fraud, and bribery and corruption.

One in 10 organisations lost more than $1 million from cybercrime in the past two years while one third reported procurement fraud.

Cybercrime is a bigger problem for banks while procurement fraud is more common in the construction, mining and energy industries, PwC Partner and Forensic Services leader Malcolm Shackell says.

Procurement fraudsters can be an employee, business owner, board member, an official or vendor involved in the purchase or sale of services, goods or assets between organisations or individuals.

"We see this type of fraud in contracting, inappropriate supplier relationships and the supply and disposal of goods and assets; anywhere the money is flowing," Mr Shackell.

"It's supplier fraud really. We see false invoicing, where the company is false or they're invoicing for services they didn't supply, and, overcharges where a supplier inflates invoices.

"We particularly see that in mining and construction."

Other fraud, including payroll fraud, represents 13 per cent of crime experienced by Australian organisations.

In a positive sign, about a third of Australian firms are detecting crime through tip-offs from internal and external sources.

Many have set up formal whistleblower programs.


By Petrina Berry

  • I still think there is a bit of white washing going on inside some large contractors with some of their procurement and project management people. As long as the project budget is not blown some of these contractors think its "okay" and a "industry tradition".
    I could never understand when a office assistant with only a few years experience gets caught taking a few extra pens home or their hand in the petty cash tin is treated more harshly than a project manager or someone in procurement getting kickbacks on the side from subbies such as "consultant fees", "investments in their private company" or more blatant things like race horses, hot rods and jet skis.
    Accepting things like that are okay as long as the project delivers a profit!

  • I discovered we had been ripped off by our builder and plumber. Gave all the evidence including plumber's invoices to the Building and Plumbing Commissions and they couldn't care less. When regulators don't concern themselves with the dishonest, criminal behaviour and misconduct of registered practitioners, is it any wonder that this behaviour flourishes in this industry? These contractors know there is no control and take full advantage of the situation.

  • Whistle Blower is such a demeaning name for those prepared to out the wrong doing of others. Its like a counter culture to not telling tales. Well that all has to change. This is public interest stuff and when the public is not getting what they have contracted then there needs to be more effective and transparent ways of dealing with this. The US has their Fraudulent Claims Act where ripping off the government can be exposed and pursued by members of the public. They even get a share of what's recovered.
    Politicians enter into a contract with the electorate to ensure the public gets value for money and good governance. Governments can lead in this area not acquiesce to the status quo. Its time for better resolve and accountability here.