Four-year fraud total may be as high as $5 billion

Experts say fraudsters may have stolen up to $5 billion from Australian businesses, government bodies and individuals between 2007 and 2011.

KPMG national head of forensic Gary Gill said his firm believed the actual cost of fraud was significantly greater than what is reported.

“Many incidences of fraud go undetected or unreported and we estimate that less than 20% of frauds actually go before the courts,” Gill said.

Most frauds (80%) against commercial businesses were committed by employees or managers at an average of $1.8 million apiece, with $45 million the biggest fraud reported.

Businesses suffered nearly a third of the fraud committed in the second half of 2011 – almost $60 million.

Half of Australian frauds occurred in NSW, with bribery and corruption starting to show up in fraud cases.

KPMG said accounting fraud was the most common variety which “invariably involves insiders, weak controls and a lack of detection processes”.

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