Aussie workers have stolen $400m from employers since 2000

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Whether it’s a crime of opportunity, greed, malice or a combination of all three, over the past 12 years Aussie workers have ripped off their employers to the tune of $400m – and that’s just the figure of those who were caught.

According to a new report from forensic accounting firm Warfield and Associates, perhaps not surprisingly, the banking sector was named as home to the worst offenders, and accountants and bookkeepers topped the list. “They have direct access to money and I think that's where there is a lot of trust in that area,” report author Brett Warfield said.

Warfield said the research identified evidence of major governance weaknesses in some of Australia's largest organisations. He added that organisations should learn from the mistakes of others, and ensure there are effective internal controls, appropriate supervision and regular internal audits in place.

The most common method of theft was through electronic funds transfer, where employees simply transferred cash into their own accounts. “The ease with which perpetrators in many organisations used the electronic funds transfer system to simply credit their own bank accounts is very concerning,” Warfield said. “We see EFT fraud as one of the major fraud issues of this decade,” he added.

Profile of a thief
 

  • 66 of the 93 perpetrators were male and 27 were female
  • The largest amount stolen by an employee was $45.3m
  • The next four largest frauds were $27.3m, $22.4m, $19.3m and $19m
  • The banking sector was the hardest hit with 30 frauds
  • Gambling addiction was the main motivating factor in over half of the cases
  • Accountants and bookkeepers were the most prevalent job titles of the perpetrators
  • 43 cases involved employees diverting funds to their own bank accounts by electronic funds transfer

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