In April 2018, the ACFE released the 2018 Report to the Nations, which provided a global analysis of the costs and effects of occupational fraud (i.e., fraud committed against the organization by its own officers, directors, or employees). The report highlighted the tremendous impact occupational fraud has on organizations throughout the world. In a new sub-report, we now focus more closely on how occupational fraud impacts the government sector.Read More
If you follow fraud stories in the news, there’s a chance one or two of them might have caught your attention last week. Although the circumstances of each case differ, they all involve politically active defendants who either pleaded guilty to, were found guilty of, or charged with committing fraud. The cases also illustrate the interconnected nature of many fraud charges.Read More
FROM THE PRESIDENT
James D. Ratley, CFE
I've met many whistleblowers in my time, and what’s always resonated with me is that they persist despite nearly impossible odds. Dr. Sam Foote, a physician with a genius mind and audacious spirit, persisted when he found himself facing Goliath: the Phoenix Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System. When scandal rocked the department in Arizona, he didn’t back down.
In 2011, Foote penned his first letter to the VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to report waste, fraud and abuse by Gabriel Perez, then-director of the Phoenix VA. Foote had heard rumors that Perez’s mismanagement of funds had put the hospital $12 million in the hole. The national inspector general for the VA investigated the allegations that same year and Perez retired while inquiries were underway.
Any whistleblower would sigh with relief at this point: The OIG listened, the alleged fraudster was ousted, and now Foote and the hospital could move on. However, during Perez’s tenure, seven physicians left the hospital, and he never replaced them, which left the hospital with a provider shortage.
In 2012, Sharon Helman, who’d previously served as director of the VA hospital in Hines, Illinois, joined as head of the Phoenix VA and nearly a year later was reporting a decrease in patient wait times. But in the next year, Foote discovered secret patient wait lists. “In April of 2013, they [Helman and senior staff] made two lists: They made one electronic list that they would take on and off about 150 names that they actually reported to central office,” says Foote in Fraud Magazine's latest cover article. “Then they had another electronic list that did not report to central office.” Helman and the other administrators were claiming bonuses for decreased wait times — and patients were dying while waiting for care.
Foote again brought his concerns to the attention of the VA OIG, but this time he faced some resistance. He then sent letters to several government officials, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Eventually, the office of then House Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the chairman of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, responded. Miller put Foote in touch with a CNN producer, and on April 23, 2014, CNN broadcast an interview with Foote, and the story went viral.
Thanks to Foote’s tenacious efforts, further investigations would reveal that 293 veterans died while waiting for care. Multiple high-ranking officials, including Helman, have been placed on administrative leave or fired. And Foote continues to speak out as the VA saga continues.
At the 28th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, this past June, Foote received the 2017 Cliff Robertson Sentinel Award “for choosing truth over self.” He might have taken on Goliath, but just like the result of that epic battle, Foote is taking down the giant.
Mandy Moody, CFE
ACFE Media Manager
The ACFE's 2016 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse provides an analysis of 2,410 cases of occupational fraud that occurred in 114 countries throughout the world. What makes this analysis so valuable is its ability to give readers a true idea of the toll fraud can take on a company.
Here are the top five conclusions that describe the impact fraud can have on the bottom line:
- Asset misappropriation was by far the most common form of occupational fraud, occurring in more than 83% of cases, but causing the smallest median loss of $125,000. Financial statement fraud was on the other end of the spectrum, occurring in less than 10% of cases but causing a median loss of $975,000. Corruption cases fell in the middle, with 35.4% of cases and a median loss of $200,000.
- The longer a fraud lasted, the greater the financial damage it caused. While the median duration of the frauds in our study was 18 months, the losses rose as the duration increased. At the extreme end, those schemes that lasted more than five years caused a median loss of $850,000.
- Approximately two-thirds of the cases reported to us targeted privately held or publicly owned companies. These for-profit organizations suffered the largest median losses among the types of organizations analyzed, at $180,000 and $178,000, respectively.
- Of the cases involving a government victim, those that occurred at the federal level reported the highest median loss ($194,000), compared to state or provincial ($100,000) and local entities ($80,000).
- Although mining and wholesale trade had the fewest cases of any industry in our study, those industries reported the greatest median losses of $500,000 and $450,000, respectively.\
It is impossible to know exactly how much fraud goes undetected or unreported, and even calculations based solely on known fraud cases are likely to be underestimated, as many victims downplay or miscalculate the amount of damage. Nonetheless, attempts to determine the cost of fraud are important, because understanding the size of the problem helps bring attention to its impact, enables organizations to quantify their fraud risk, and helps management make educated decisions about investing in anti-fraud resources and programs.
Find more takeaways and download the full report at ACFE.com/RTTN.
ACFE Public Relations Specialist
“Waste, fraud and abuse” has become a pervasive soundbite in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but just how much fraud is actually occurring in the government? In a study of 2,410 occupational fraud cases investigated by Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs) between January 2014 and October 2015, 18.7 percent of the reported fraud instances occurred in government entities. Although 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 noticeably higher level than the median cost of fraud at the local and state government levels ($80,000 and $100,000 respectively).
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) published the results of its most recent global fraud survey in its highly anticipated 2016 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse. Other key findings from the 92-page report include (all values in U.S. dollars):
Fraud is incredibly costly. 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. The study respondents estimated that the typical organization loses 5 percent of its annual revenue to fraud each year. When applied to the 2014 estimated Gross World Product of $74.16 trillion, this translates to potential global fraud losses of up to $3.7 trillion.
Small businesses are especially at risk. The study found that 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 had implemented some of the most basic anti-fraud controls like implementing a fraud hotline, and establishing a management review and code of conduct.
Hotlines are becoming an expected control in most companies. In the study, 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.
Physical documents are still key components in fraud. For the first time, respondents were asked how fraudsters attempted to cover their tracks. Even in such a technologically driven world, fraudsters are still relying on creating fraudulent physical documents, altering existing physical documents or destroying those documents.
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.
The 2016 Report to the Nations is available for download online at ACFE.com/RTTN.