June 03, 2010

A Certified Fraud Examiners survey found that organizations around the world lose an estimated 5 percent of their annual revenue — more than $2.9 trillion of the 2009 gross world product — to occupational fraud, or cases in which one uses his or her occupation for personal gains through deliberate misuse or misapplication of the employing organization's resources or assets.

The figure, released June 2 by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), was culled from an investigation of 1,843 cases of fraud in 106 countries between January 2008 and December 2009. The data was part of ACFE's 2010 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud & Abuse.

Other findings show the median loss caused by occupational fraud cases is $160,000, with about one-fourth of fraud cases involving losses of more than $1 million. Fraud cases in the study lasted a median of 18 months before getting caught, with high level perpetrators doing the most damage. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to occupational fraud.

"Fraud knows no boundaries, and anti-fraud professionals worldwide face more challenges than ever in detecting and combating it,” said ACFE President James D. Ratley, CFE. “Expanding our Report to include global data allows the ACFE to provide a more accurate picture of the nature of fraud and the level to which it impacts organizations around the world." The report is available for download in PDF format through ACFE's website.