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Remote working demands improvements in fraud detection

Large-scale working from home has raised the spectre of internal fraud, and treasury departments are finding it harder to conduct effective investigations.


A recent survey by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) revealed that 48% of companies polled had experienced an increase in employee embezzlement since the start of the Covid-19 crisis – an increase of almost a half compared with the start of the pandemic.

More than two-thirds expected employee embezzlement to increase further during the next 12 months, with a quarter predicting a notable increase.

Perhaps more worryingly from a treasury perspective, almost two-thirds of attendees at the annual conference of Cifas – the UK fraud prevention service – suggested that fraud might become more ‘acceptable’ to the public amid the pandemic and economic downturn.

However, in 2020 a long-term study of internal fraud conducted by Cynthia Courtois and Yves Gendron from Université Laval found that corporates had become less likely to report incidents to the police, partly for fear of reputational damage, but also because they didn’t trust the authorities to fully investigate their cases.

Private investigators certainly have a role to play in helping corporates uncover fraudulent financial activity
Nicolas Trimbour, BNP Paribas

Some of the companies they interviewed had engaged private investigators to look into suspected fraud, with an emphasis on retrieving lost funds rather than prosecution.


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