Business fraud at record high, PwC suggests

Cyber crime the foremost concern for companies, survey shows

Some 41 per cent of respondents said they experienced customer fraud. Photograph: iStock

Some 41 per cent of respondents said they experienced customer fraud. Photograph: iStock

 

Business fraud has never been worse in the Republic, according to a new survey from professional services firm, PwC. The survey was conducted among a small sample, however, with just 76 responses included. PwC said the respondents included “some of Ireland’s largest companies” across major sectors including “government agencies, banking, financial services, aviation, legal, retail, property and education”.

The results suggest that more than half of Irish companies experienced fraud in the past two years, with more than 60 per cent of those experiencing two or more fraudulent events.

Some 41 per cent of respondents said they experienced customer fraud, which was higher than a global finding in the same survey of 35 per cent, while respondents also reported asset misappropriation, accounting fraud and money laundering .

More than a fifth of respondents employ between 100 and 500 staff, 14 per cent employ between 500 and 1,000 people, another 20 per cent have between 1,000 and 5,000 staff, 13 per cent employ between 10,000 and 50,000 people while 5 per cent have more than 50,000 staff.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, many organisations continue to review their business models in an attempt to operate with a reduced cost base,” said PwC Ireland cyber lead Pat Moran.

‘Perfect storm’

“However, this may give rise to a perfect storm for fraud: for example, increased remote working may lead to an increased likelihood of a successful phishing or smishing attempt as security defences may have become weakened.”

The larger survey was carried out across 99 countries, with a total of 5,000 responses across those jurisdictions. Some 34 per cent of global companies said cybercrime is the most prevalent type of fraud. In the Republic, that figure was 69 per cent.

The survey also found that 69 per cent of fraud incidents reported by the Irish respondents to the survey were committed by external perpetrators compared to 39 per cent globally.

“Whilst it may be desirable to fast track new suppliers or third parties, appropriate measures should be implemented to mitigate the risk of engaging unsuitable third parties,” PwC noted.