Are fraudsters generally men or women? The gender ratio is 85:15, finds KPMG's `Profile of a Fraudster Survey 2007'.
However, female perpetrators are not to be ignored, alerts the report. Because the statistic could be influenced by `women's under-representation in management positions and, therefore, more limited access to sensitive information than their male colleagues.'
A previous survey by the firm had found males to constitute 92 per cent of fraudsters, but the number of female fraudsters had shown a steady trend, of about 10 per cent over the preceding three years.
A significant finding that should strengthen the case for internal controls is that weaknesses in these controls make frauds possible. Frauds rarely come to light through internal controls. Providentially, `offences are usually discovered through anonymous tip-offs'.
The financial damage inflicted by fraudsters is severe, says the report. "In most cases, the affected companies have to bear the losses themselves."
The loss may never be made good, and any claim for compensation may typically take `several years to clear up'. KPMG suggests, therefore, that it will be cost effective to have preventive measures such as introducing ethics and integrity measures.
Frauds are always a sensitive topic, which explains why very few companies talk about the problem. Two-thirds of the affected companies in the sample surveyed issued incomplete information or none at all about the incident, finds KPMG. "Employees, authorities and media are rarely informed for fear of a negative image."
Thus, only occasionally do offences undergo criminal investigation. "Mostly, independent investigations are carried out without the police or the public authorities being informed."
Do fraudsters act on their own or with collaborators? "In 68 per cent of profiles the perpetrators acted independently. In 27 per cent of profiles, perpetrators acted in groups of two to five conspirators. A group of more than five perpetrators only acted in 5 per cent of all profiles," reads a snatch in the report.
Significantly, women participated as a conspirator in every fourth profile where a conspirator was involved, says KPMG.