FROM THE ACFE MIDDLE EAST FRAUD CONFERENCE
By Emily Primeaux
Assistant Editor, Fraud Magazine
Under the kind patronage of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of the Financial Audit Department, and hosted by the FAD of Dubai, the inaugural ACFE Middle East Fraud Conference brought together more than 400 anti-fraud professionals to learn the latest anti-fraud techniques and tools.
Featured speakers at the event, February 14-15 in Dubai, included Prof. Dr. Marco Gercke, Director of the Cybercrime Research Institute; Jeffrey Robinson, author and international expert on organized crime and fraud; and Hamed Kazim, CEO of HK Consulting. Concurrent sessions focused on the global nature of fraud by teaching attendees how to address cybersecurity risks in the Middle East, taking fraud examinations to other countries, and how to navigate global expectations for addressing fraud risk and the investigative process.
During the first keynote presentation, Hamed Kazim spoke about the importance of tackling what he calls the "common denominator" of fraud: the human being. While we live in a world that's filled with huge global challenges, including the impact of technology on our lives, businesses and governments, the human element shouldn't be ignored.
"When you look at the resources dedicated to addressing the human element, it's minimal in comparison," said Kazim. "We spend billions of dollars globally on fraud detection, on professionals, on technology, etc. … But it all boils down to that human being."
Kazim used an example from his own experience. He heads the audit committee for his organization, so he commissioned the internal audit team to use data analytics to compile data from the past 10 years to look at fraud findings. The results showed that 70 percent of fraud was committed by people that shouldn't have been hired in the first place, so they implemented new steps into the organization. Kazim said they began emphasizing the induction of entry-level employees with much more scrutiny beyond the norm; he advised that other organizations go beyond normal reference checks in the hiring process.
It doesn't stop at the hiring process, though. Kazim said you have to monitor employees' behavior and performance during their careers, and you have to create a culture of healthy awareness in your organization. Make it easier for people to report tips or to blow the whistle on fraud.
Kazim also discussed the importance of how companies handle budgetary constraints or budgetary cuts, especially when it comes to employee layoffs. "The way you go about laying off employees can make a huge difference," said Kazim. "You're either upfront to your employees and you tell them, ‘We're going through an economic recession, we have to tighten our belts, and that's how we're going to go about it, in a very transparent way.' Because if you don't actually handle it well, it will demoralize the staff. When you demoralize the staff, what will happen? Productivity will drop and the incentive for creating fraud increases substantially."
Kazim wanted attendees to takeaway these key points from his presentation: It's important to focus on technology. It's important to have firewalls, to have fraud detection systems, to have awareness, etc. "They're all important, I'm not taking away the importance of having these functions," said Kazim. "But we have to go back to the basics. Focus on the single most important element in these things, and that's the human aspect."
Also, read news coverage from the conference:
Fraud incidences go up substantially during slowdown, recession
Gulf News | 14 February 2016
Speakers discuss fraud prevention techniques
Khaleej Times | 15 February 2016
Empower supports global integrity, transparency
The Gulf Today | 14 February 2016