Organizations Lose 5% of Revenue to Fraud

The typical organization loses 5 percent of its revenue to fraud each year, according to a new report from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

The ACFE released its biannual 2016 Report to the Nations on Fraud on Wednesday. The total cost of the frauds reported in the study was over $6.3 billion, with 23 percent of the cases costing more than $1 million. Extrapolating from the organizations studied, the ACFE estimates that potential global fraud losses could be as high as $3.7 trillion.

The study examined 2,410 occupational fraud cases investigated by Certified Fraud Examiners between January 2014 and October 2015, and found 18.7 percent of the reported fraud instances occurred in government entities. While the instances of reported fraud in the government occurred at an equal frequency between local, state and federal government, cases that occurred on the federal level cost a median of $194,000 each, a much higher level than the median cost of fraud at local and state government ($80,000 and $100,000 respectively).

Organizations with fewer than 100 employees faced the same median cost per instance of fraud as companies with more employees. However, less than half of the smaller organizations implemented some of the most basic anti-fraud controls, such as implementing a fraud hotline, and establishing a management review and code of conduct. However, CFEs reported that 60.1 percent of the organizations they worked with had a fraud reporting hotline in place, an 8.9 percent increase from the findings reported in 2010.

The Report to the Nations also details findings such as how fraud risks varied by industry, how the implementation of anti-fraud controls affected exposure to fraud, the breakdown of fraud statistics by geographical region and the most common behavioral traits observed among fraud perpetrators. For example, fraudsters continue to rely on creating fraudulent physical documents, altering existing physical documents or destroying those documents.

The median loss for all cases in the study was $150,000, with 23.2 percent of cases causing losses of $1 million or more. Asset misappropriation was by far the most common form of occupational fraud, occurring in more than 83 percent of cases, but causing the smallest median loss of $125,000.

Financial statement fraud was at the other end of the spectrum, occurring in less than 10 percent of cases but causing a median loss of $975,000. Corruption cases fell in the middle, with 35.4 percent of cases and a median loss of $200,000.

Among the various forms of asset misappropriation, billing schemes and check-tampering schemes posed the greatest risk based on their relative frequency and median loss.

For a copy of the report, visit

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