WHY DO WE NEED CORPORATE AND WORKPLACE INVESTGATIONS?
Five facts about white-collar crime:
- In 2015, the Australian Federal Police had 114 fraud-related matters on hand with an estimated total value of Au$1.6 billion.
- Organised fraud is reported to cost the Australian economy Au$6.3 billion annually .
- Over 57 per cent of Australian organisations experienced crime between 2012-2014, with one third of those losing more than Au$1 million.
- Between 2010 and 2014, there was a reported fraud of over Au$1.2 billion against the Commonwealth.
- The Insurance Fraud Bureau of Australia (IFBA) estimates fraudulent claims to cost insurance companies Au$2.2 billion annually, with one in 10 claims dishonestly filed.
White collar crime such as this is synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals, as well as the public (long firm fraud, counterfeiting, control fraud, distributed control fraud, deception). Data theft is also an increasingly common phenomenon and the job title of data hostage negotiator has been proposed for those who recover illegally acquired information. These crimes are characterised by deceit, concealment or violation of trust. Violence or physical force rarely occurs. Often, such crime is portrayed as ‘victimless’, with institutions deemed to anonymously bear losses. However, this is far from accurate. A single white-collar crime can destroy a company, wipe out the life savings of families, or cost investors billions (and on occasion all the above).
Fraud is often, but not always, sophisticated, but it is, by its deceitful nature, often difficult to uncover. Police and regulatory bodies worldwide continue to wage successful campaigns against the perpetrators of such acts. They are empowered and encourage by increasingly sophisticated technologies that counter the criminals. However, the sheer scale of this category of criminality, coupled to the rise of more violent crime and extremism and the pressure that this places on the authorities, means that many criminals continue to slip by, especially in the commercial world.
It increasingly falls to companies and other civil organisations to better manage the considerable risk associated with fraud through its early detection (as it is first actioned) or once the crime is completed. Some of this ‘detective’ work may be achieved through the deployment of data analytics and artificial intelligence. However, in truth, such systems serve to augment the skills of human investigators, who continue to have a key role in fraud prevention, detection, investigation, response, monitoring and reporting.
And that is why we need corporate and workplace investigations undertaken by skilled investigators.