The Fraud Examiner

The 2018 ACFE Report to the Nations Examines the Costliest Fraudster: The Executive

Sarah Hofmann, CFE

Public Information Officer, ACFE


In the 2018 ACFE Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse , the ACFE studied 2,690 cases of fraud from 125 countries in 23 different industries. While the fraudsters came from different backgrounds, displayed varied red flags and were discovered in a multitude of ways, one very clear fact emerged: owners or executives that committed fraud caused the greatest monetary damage.


The median loss for all the cases studied in the report was $130,000. Broken down, employees that committed fraud caused a median loss of $50,000; managers caused $150,000 per instance; and owners or executives caused a staggering median loss of $850,000. This correlation likely reflects the fact that high-level fraudsters tend to have greater access to an organization’s assets than low-level personnel. They may also have greater technical ability to commit and conceal fraud, and they might be able to use their authority to override or conceal their crimes in ways that low-level employees cannot. 

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