Report to the Nations: Read the Stories Behind the Numbers


Sarah Hofmann, CFE
ACFE Public Information Officer

Fraud inherently deals with lots of numerical data and fraud examiners are experts at diving into those numbers and finding evidence of wrong-doing. However, with balance sheets, ledgers, expense reports and other dense documents at the forefront of many investigations, it’s easy to forget the stories of those people affected by the fraud.

The ACFE’s 2018 Report to the Nations was compiled using data from 2,690 real cases of occupational fraud reported by CFEs around the world. The cases varied in schemes, industry, number of perpetrators and many other factors, but all of them involved money being stolen in some capacity from an organization or individual. I went deeper into some of these fraud instances to find out the full story of what occurred from the CFEs that examined them.

The stories are all interesting and different in nature, although none of the themes should surprise seasoned fraud examiners. Victims are often blindsided by someone they trust. Fraudsters may attempt to wiggle out of any responsibility for their crimes. Restitution may be difficult to come by.

One story involves a beloved member of the community who stole millions of dollars from his coworkers and business partners for more than 20 years. What may be most devastating about that case is that once the investigation began, it became clear that the fraudster had planned and executed the fraud from the very beginning of his employment, all while smiling to his friends’ faces.

Another story involves an unscrupulous banker who drained the investment account of his brother’s former father-in-law. The victim had trusted the fraudster and even saw him as family. Even apart from the monetary damage, the victim may have issues trusting people for the rest of his life.

You can read these stories, and more, in Stories Behind the Numbers.