Nearly 40% of businesses worldwide reported being victimized by economic crime between 2011 and 2013, according to a survey conducted by “Big Four” accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
The company’s 2014 Global Economic Crime Survey also found that 45% of businesses based in the United States suffered the effects of economic crime over the same period. More than 50% of the survey respondents from the United States said fraud cost their companies more than $100,000. Nearly 10% of the U.S. respondents reported losses of more than $5 million.
“Economic crime has become a truly borderless threat,” Steven Skalak, of PwC’s Forensic Services practice, said in a statement, adding that American companies face heightened threats from the perils of corruption and bribery as they expand their footprint in “high-risk markets.”
The survey respondents included more than 5,100 representatives from 99 countries. More than half of the respondents worked for businesses with more than 1,000 employees, and half were senior executives. Of the U.S. respondents, 36% were senior executives and 53% worked for publicly traded companies.
According to the survey results, accounting fraud and bribery were on the rise for U.S. companies. Accounting fraud was reported by 16% of respondents in 2011 compared to 23% in 2013. Companies reporting bribery and corruption doubled to 14% between 2011 and 2013.
A previous survey by the American Institute of CPAs found that demand for forensic accountants is expected to continue increasing at least through 2016. Forensic accounting professionals have expertise in areas such as fraud prevention and computer forensics analysis.
Concerns about cyber crime also are on the rise among U.S. companies, according to the PwC survey. More than 70% of U.S. respondents reported that they felt the risk of cyber crime had increased over the previous two years, compared to just 48% of global respondents. More than 40% of U.S. respondents also said they thought a cyber attack against their organization was likely within the next two years.
U.S. companies reported that about half of economic crimes were perpetrated by insiders, primarily middle managers. Meanwhile, fraud committed by junior staff members fell from 50% in 2011 to 31% in 2013.
“No longer can organizations focus their fraud prevention and detection strategies on only a few types of fraud, a certain profile of fraudster or certain perceived threats,” PwC official Didier Lavion said in a statement.