• Methodology

    The 2016 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse is based on the results of the 2015 Global Fraud Survey, an online survey opened to 41,788 Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs) from July 2015 to October 2015. As part of the survey, respondents were asked to provide a detailed narrative of the single largest fraud case they had investigated since January 2014. Additionally, after completing the survey the first time, respondents were provided the option to submit information about a second case that they investigated. Cases submitted were required to meet the following four criteria:

    1. The case must have involved occupational fraud (defined as internal fraud, or fraud committed by a person against the organization for which he or she works).
    2. The investigation must have occurred between January 2014 and the time of survey participation.
    3. The investigation must have been complete at the time of survey participation.
    4. The CFE must have been reasonably sure the perpetrator(s) was (were) identified.

    Respondents were then presented with 81 questions to answer regarding the particular details of the fraud case, including information about the perpetrator, the victim organization, and the methods of fraud employed, as well as fraud trends in general. We received 7,497 total responses to the survey, 2,410 of which were usable for purposes of this report. The data contained in the 2016 report is based solely on the information provided in these 2,410 survey responses.

    Analysis Methodology

    In calculating the percentages discussed throughout the report, we used the total number of complete and relevant responses for the question(s) being analyzed. Specifically, we excluded any blank responses or instances where the participant indicated that he or she did not know the answer to a question. Consequently, the total number of cases included in each analysis varies.

    In addition, several survey questions allowed participants to select more than one answer. Therefore, the sum of percentages in many figures throughout the report exceeds 100%.

    Unless otherwise indicated, all loss amounts discussed throughout the report are calculated using median loss rather than mean, or average, loss. Average losses were skewed by a limited number of very high-dollar frauds. Using median loss provides a more conservative—and we believe more accurate—picture of the typical impact of occupational fraud schemes. Additionally, we excluded median loss calculations for categories for which there were fewer than 10 responses.

    Because the direct losses caused by financial statement frauds are typically spread among numerous stakeholders, obtaining an accurate estimate for this amount is extremely difficult. Consequently, for schemes involving financial statement fraud, we asked survey participants to provide the gross amount of the financial statement misstatement (over- or under-statement) involved in the scheme. All losses reported for financial statement frauds throughout the report are based on those reported amounts.

2016 ACFE Report to the Nations