Does a Down Economy Cause an Increase in Fraud?


Two weeks ago the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners sent out a survey to members, attempting to determine whether a bad economy makes fraud rise. I’ve written about this topic before, and the truth is that there is no way for us to know.

People suspect that a poor economy causes more fraud, but it’s absolutely impossible to determine if that’s true. It sounds logical, but at the end of the day, no one will be able to prove how many frauds were “caused” by the state of the economy. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that many frauds are never discovered, so it’s clearly impossible to determine the reason behind the (undiscovered) fraud.

It’s an interesting topic for discussion, but I wonder if the survey sent out was simply an attempt to “prove” the theory that a poor economy causes more fraud. Take a look at it below, and feel free to add your two cents on this issue.

With the stock market tumbling and so many businesses — and individuals — struggling financially, the current economic slump is in the forefront of most peoples’ minds. The mortgage crisis and securities scandals caused by Bernie Madoff and now Robert Allan Stanford have only served to further undermine confidence in the weakened economy.

Does fraud increase when economic times are tough? How do economic downturns affect businesses’ anti-fraud efforts? As a fraud fighter on the front lines, you are in a unique position to help answer these important questions.

Please take a few minutes to complete the ACFE’s very short survey on Fraud in a Weakened Economy. We ask that you submit your completed survey by March 8, 2009.

Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA

Chairman and Founder

Association of Certified Fraud Examiners


4 thoughts on “Does a Down Economy Cause an Increase in Fraud?

  1. Tracy Coenen

    Michael – Please feel free to link to your article(s) about the issue. I’m sure our readers would be interested.

  2. GG Gurce, CFE, CPA

    We may never know but I agree with Sam. Bad economy helps uncover fraud. Tough times require tough measures; companies are monitoring more closely where the money is going and in the process more fraud is being uncovered. That’s my two cents..

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