Fraud Examiners Have a Personal Stake in Fighting Government Fraud


Mark Scott, J.D., CFE
ACFE Research Specialist

As fraud examiners, we operate as professionals committed to the prevention, detection and deterrence of fraud, but as citizens and taxpayers, we are also victims of fraud perpetrated against our governing authorities. 

Combating government fraud is an essential component of effective government, and because it touches us all, we all have a stake in it. As citizens, we pay taxes, we must obey laws and regulations, and in return, we receive benefits, such as the use of public capital (e.g., roads and airports), as well as functioning legal and financial systems.

Yet, government institutions are among the most common targets of fraud, and they lose billions of dollars to fraud each year.

In fact, government institutions are victims of every conceivable kind of fraud, and everyone — including government authorities and their employees, taxpayers and beneficiaries of government programs — pays for these frauds in direct and indirect ways.

Government fraud reduces the public funds that a government entity has available, and therefore, it can affect a government’s spending power and lead to a reduction of public services.

Moreover, government fraud can result in a loss of public confidence, and it can cause reputational damage to government officials. And while reputational damage can affect any organization, virtually all government organizations are uniquely exposed to it because they depend on public funds to operate.

Yet, as victims of government fraud, we are not defenseless. Indeed, there are plenty of measures that members of the public, the government and organizations can take to help prevent this form of fraud. Prevention starts with being well informed; the more a person or entity knows about fraud, the less likely they are to be duped.

To help create a more informed public, the ACFE’s new workbook, Fighting Fraud in the Government, provides a comprehensive overview of government fraud and also addresses how Certified Fraud Examiners can help prevent and detect the various schemes that target government institutions. The workbook covers a broad range of schemes — including fraud by government employees, corruption, procurement schemes, and false claims and statements — as well as measures to prevent, detect and investigate such crimes.

Whether an anti-fraud professional works for a government organization, a government-affiliated entity or simply an organization that has dealings with the government, he or she can take away many lessons from this workbook. The fraud schemes are discussed in a government setting, but they occur in virtually every industry. The prevention and detection tips and strategies provide specific actions that fraud examiners can immediately implement in their work. We cover traditional and online investigations and discuss practical resources that are openly available to all fraud examiners.

Consequently, Fighting Fraud in the Government is a valuable addition to any fraud examiner’s resource library.