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PwC’s Global Economic Crime Survey 2020: UK findings

Fraud and economic crime - an evolving challenge


Is your organisation ready to respond to fraud in the right way?

The evolving landscape of fraud is causing increased disruption to businesses. We asked questions around the types of fraud they had experienced, the impact it had and what they’d done to prevent it happening again.

What did they tell us? Economic crime has reached its highest level in the past 24 months with 56% of UK businesses surveyed stating that they were impacted by fraud, corruption or other economic crime. This 2020 figure is the highest in the history of our Global Economic Crime Survey, and is well above the global finding of 47%.

A closer look at the types of fraud being reported reveals some further interesting trends. Fraudulent attacks on businesses continue to appear from multiple angles, with some significant differences emerging between what we see in the UK compared to the global picture. The UK has a much higher proportion of frauds perpetrated externally, at 57% compared to 39% globally.

Our research explores how UK businesses are being affected by fraud, and what areas are causing the most disruption. The message: for any business – yours included – the threat of fraud is current and growing. It’s a risk you ignore or underestimate at your peril. Too many businesses are doing just that.

Our Global Economic Crime Survey 2020: UK findings will help you get clued up on fraud risks, and map out an action plan to respond.

“Looking across the business world, it seems unlikely that the growing threat of fraud will recede any time soon. As we’ve noted in previous reports, periods of economic and geopolitical uncertainty often open up new opportunities for fraudsters to pinpoint or exploit gaps in controls. With the threats from global actors continuing to increase, it’s hardly surprising that cybercrime remains the top type of fraud reported by UK businesses.”

Fran MarwoodForensics Investigations Partner, PwC UK

Steps to take combat fraud: Prepare. Respond. Emerge Stronger

Take action: be prepared

Investing in fraud prevention pays dividends - but are you doing enough? For example, given that 38% of UK organisations have been asked to pay a bribe (which is 16% higher than the 2018 survey), this area should be a significant concern and an area of focus in the Boardroom. It’s surprising then that only 32% of UK respondents reported having a bribery and corruption prevention program in place. To raise your game in preventing fraud, you should focus on three actions. First, identify, rank and address all your risks. Second, back up your anti-fraud technology with the right governance, expertise and monitoring. Third, take notice of fraud when it happens.

Responding: doing the right thing

When your organisation is hit by fraud, you need to know how to respond, and quickly.
A consistent approach across global operations is key, for example, conducting investigations, bolstering internal controls, making the right disclosures and taking appropriate disciplinary actions. There’s still more to be done in responding in the right way. Having preparations in place, can you help you respond efficiently during critical moments and even strengthen your organisation’s defences when the next fraud comes along.

Emerging stronger: measuring success

Almost half of UK respondents say they plan to increase their spend on fraud prevention in the next two years. But will the measures work – and will they see a measurable return on their investment? Quantifying the returns from investing in a fraud-fighting tool can be a challenging exercise. However, there is a clear and direct correlation between fraud prevention investments made up front and reduced cost when a fraud strikes. Put simply, companies that have a dedicated fraud programme in place generally spend less – relative to revenue – on response, remediation and fines.

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Fran  Marwood

Fran Marwood

Forensics Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7841 491400

Rachael  Joyce

Rachael Joyce

Senior Manager, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7841569306

Steven Bewick

Steven Bewick

Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7725 706095