Updated Report on Fraud Investigations Pinpoints Characteristics of Fraudsters

David Anderson is principal of David Anderson & Associates, a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of fraud investigation, fraud deterrence programs and forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.

The perpetrators of fraud come in all shapes and sizes, demographically speaking.  But fraud investigations throughout the years have been able to pinpoint the more typical characteristics of a fraudster, and some of the results are surprising. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) collected extensive data about the people who commit fraud during the association’s biennial international survey to study the costs, schemes, perpetrators and victims of fraud.

“Understanding the traits of the average fraudsters isn’t going to allow you to look at your employees and pick out who is and who isn’t going to steal from your organization,” said Anderson, an ACFE member.  “But understanding who these people are is another important component of a comprehensive fraud deterrence program.”

Although most people believe fraudsters are career criminals, Anderson said, latest findings from the ACFE’s 2016 Report to the Nations showed more than 88 percent of fraud perpetrators never had been charged or convicted of a fraud; another six percent had been charged but not convicted.  Almost 83 percent of fraudsters never had been punished or terminated by a previous employer for fraud-related conduct, and an additional eight percent had been terminated but never punished.

Another surprise involved the tenure of the employee committing the fraud, Anderson said.  More than 42 percent of fraud perpetrators had been with their company between one and five years – neither a very short time nor a very long time.  Less than eight percent had tenure of under a year, while 23% had tenure of more than 10 years.

Not surprisingly, Anderson said, was the finding that the higher the position the employee held, the greater the loss.  Frauds carried out by a regular employees caused a median loss of $65,000, while those carried out by a managers caused a median loss of $173,000 and those carried out by owners/executives caused a median loss of $703,000.

Fraud investigations have found 55 percent of all fraud perpetrators were between the ages of 31 and 45 and that men were more than twice as likely to be the perpetrator as women.  Also, the older or the more educated the perpetrator, the higher the loss tended to be, usually because these people were higher up in the organization.

“It definitely helps to understand the portrait of a typical fraudster,” said Anderson, a Certified Fraud Examiner.  “But remember, in reality, frauds are committed by all kinds of employees — men and women; young and old; low-level and high-level; well-educated and less-educated; long-time and short-time, and those with and those without a history of committing fraud.  You need to be sure you have adequate anti-fraud controls in place to protect your organization from perpetrators of any type.”

Anderson said he believes the most effective protection for every organization comes from a comprehensive fraud deterrence program created by an experienced firm that provides forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.

Over the next several weeks, Anderson will share findings from ACFE’s 2016 Report to the Nations.  The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners is the world largest anti-fraud organization, dedicated to fighting fraud through its more than 75,000 members in more than 150 countries worldwide.

If you require the services of a Certified Fraud Examiner or any other forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, please contact the Philadelphia forensic accounting firm of David Anderson & Associates by calling David Anderson at 267-207-3597 or emailing him at

About David Anderson & Associates

David Anderson & Associates is a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.  The experienced professionals at David Anderson & Associates provide forensic accounting, business valuation, fraud investigation, litigation support, economic damage analysis, business consulting and outsourced CFO services.  Company principal David Anderson has more than 30 years of experience in financial and operational leadership positions and is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner and a Certified Valuation Analyst.