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