Small businesses more likely to be targets of fraud

Head of Bond University's School of Business Professor Kietha Dunstan.
Head of Bond University's School of Business Professor Kietha Dunstan. Contributed

COMPANY fraud perpetrated by employees or family members of Tweed business owners is a multi-million dollar business and could result in local companies losing more than $120 million per year.

A recent study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) shows small businesses were most at risk because they tended not to have the necessary controls and checks in place to prevent fraud.

Tweed Heads Chamber of Commerce president Rory Curtis said this was a touchy topic with members.

"People are not inclined to talk about this subject," Mr Curtis said.

On top of this reluctance, business owners who had been victims of this type of offence were often not allowed to comment due to court orders put in place to protect offenders' rights.

Murwillumbah Chamber of Commerce president Toni Zuschke knew of no incidents of this nature in Murwillumbah and the subject was not one that was discussed during chamber meetings.

Head of the School of Business at Bond University Professor Kietha Dunstan said "among the most concerning finding of the ACFE report is that smaller organisations are victimised by fraud more often than larger organisations and that they suffer a disproportionately large median loss".

"Major frauds tend to make the headlines but small and medium sized companies are significantly impacted by losses of far lesser amounts because they represent a much larger percentage of turnover.

"In companies or departments with a small tight-knit team employees develop trust and close relationships so they wouldn't suspect that their workmates might be secretly carrying out fraudulent activities," Professor Dunstan said.

In conjunction with International Fraud Awareness Week, Bond's School of Business will hold a special masterclass on small business fraud next week, November 28.

The event is free and open to the public and will include a panel discussion featuring three finance sector experts who will share their advice for preventing fraud in the workplace.

A corporate fraud report by KPMG showed less than 10% of stolen money is recovered and in more than 60% of cases no recovery was possible at all.

Professor Dunstan said "it's most definitely a case of prevention being better than cure when it comes to fraud".

The masterclass will take place on Wednesday, November 28 at the Gregor Heiner Theatre at Bond University from 5.30 pm until 7.00 pm.

Entry is free and for reservations contact Vesna Bragagnolo on (07) 5595 2268.

Topics:  business fraud

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