Texas (Dec. 19, 2012)– Increased financial pressure is the leading reason fraud takes an estimated
20 percent uptick during the U.S. holiday season, according to a new survey of
Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs). A majority of these experts believe employee
embezzlement is the type of fraud most likely to increase during this period.
by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the survey sheds light
on this previously under-studied and under-reported area of fraud – whether seasonal
pressures brought on during the busiest shopping period of the year lead to an
increase in this type of crime. The Austin, Texas-based ACFE is the world's
largest anti-fraud organization and premier provider of anti-fraud training and
CFEs were invited to participate in the study, which focuses on fraud committed
during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Survey questions
focused on whether they observed an increase in fraud during this period, what
factors are involved, what types of frauds are most common and whether
organizations change their level of resources allocated to fraud prevention
during the holidays.
findings from survey include:
On average, survey respondents believe fraud
losses increase during the holiday shopping season by nearly 20 percent
(compared to the rest of the year).
In terms of fraud occurrence, nearly 80 percent
of respondents believe that the general level of fraudulent activity
experienced by ALL organizations will increase (23 percent believe it will
increase significantly, while 56 percent believe it will increase slightly).
Only 12 percent believe that it will decrease or stay the same (and 9 percent
Respondents believe the single biggest
contributing factor to be increased financial pressure on perpetrators (61
percent), followed by an increased opportunity to commit fraud (24 percent) and
increased rationalization for fraud (10 percent). These three factors are
represented in criminologist Donald R. Cressey’s “Fraud Triangle” and their
presence is considered to be necessary in order for fraud to occur.
Employee embezzlement/theft is the fraud scheme
most likely to increase during the holidays, according to 56 percent of survey
respondents – while half of them also reported that fraud by unrelated third
parties (identity theft, con schemes) will increase. Nearly a quarter (24
percent) of respondents said that frauds by vendors will increase, while
bribery (11 percent) and financial statement fraud (9 percent) were also
expected to increase. (NOTE: multiple answers were allowed for this survey
Fewer than 7 percent of respondents said their
organization (or their clients’ organizations) increase their level of
resources committed to fraud prevention or detection during the holidays. Most said
that the level remains the same (56.7 percent), while more than 9 percent said
that the level actually decreases.
survey was conducted online between Nov. 6 – 14, 2012, and completed by 881 CFEs.
As experts in fraud prevention in detection, CFEs have passed a rigorous exam
and meet yearly requirements for certification by the ACFE.