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Global report reveals the changing nature of expense fraud

It’s a global epidemic that’s constantly evolving and contributes towards business losses of around $2.9 trillion each year and yet - we still know so little about expense fraud.

For businesses throughout the world, fighting expense fraud poses an ‘iceberg’ challenge - we know it exists but the dangers are caused by how much of the problem remains hidden.

It’s this lack of accurate information that makes tackling fraudulent reimbursement costs such a difficult and daunting task. You can’t solve a problem until you have clearly identified the nature of it.

To tackle this, Webexpenses conducted one of the largest surveys of its kind, exploring the global challenges caused by expense fraud and the impact it has on businesses.

More than 4,000 office workers from countries in three different continents were surveyed on their attitudes towards employee expenses and workplace fraud.

Outdated expense management processes

The results help to highlight the hidden and evolving nature of the problem with the vast majority of respondents (86%) saying they had never had any expense claim challenged or declined.

The findings also highlight how employees are finding smarter and increasingly effective ways to avoid detection, finding effective ways to ‘game’ outdated management systems.

More than half of the respondents (53%) thought it was ‘easy’ to exaggerate claims within their organization. Worryingly, more than a third (37%) of respondents said that if they were ‘sensible’ with fraudulent claims, the deception was unlikely to ever be identified or challenged.

This lack of monitoring or policy enforcement may explain why fraudulent activities are still so common within the workplace - almost half (47%) admitted to falsifying or exaggerating mileage costs.

Adam Reynolds, CEO of Webexpenses, said:

“The survey findings show exactly how expense fraud has been able to become such a global problem for our businesses. It’s the cumulative effect of organizations not having the tools needed to robustly manage and monitor employee costs.

“The report data highlights how this is a self-perpetuating problem with outdated and ineffective management helping to embolden those employees who commit workplace fraud.”

The global survey includes data from the UK, North America, Australia and New Zealand. The other findings revealed by the report include:

  • Global comparisons highlighting regional challenges
  • The ‘hotspot’ areas where expense fraud risks are highest
  • How outdated processes are stifling the fight against fraud
  • The level of reimbursements fraudulently claimed for family and friends

For a quick overview of the findings, take a look at our handy infographic.