PwC: Fraud cases actually more than reported
Date: September 25, 2003
THE levels of commercial crime in Malaysia can be very much higher than reported as many companies fear reporting fraud perpetrated against them would damage their reputation, a white collar crime investigator revealed.
Head of the investigations practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Malaysia Chan Yim Fun said that although recent figures had shown that reported commercial crimes had been on the increase, there were more fraud cases that had gone unreported.
“There’s a stigma attached ? and the issue of reputation loss is causing some companies not to take action,” she said in an interview with Starbiz ahead of a recent PwC event in Kuala Lumpur to launch its new computer forensics service.
Chan said that was why gaining accurate figures for commercial fraud was so difficult, although a recent global PwC survey did find that more than a third or 39% of Asia-Pacific businesses had been victims of such crimes.
Of these, 16% of organisations said they had suffered from cyber crimes in the past two years and with the increased use of technology in their businesses, 30% of firms perceived cyber crime to be a major concern in the next five years.
This survey follows recent statistics issued by the National Information Communication Technology Security and Response Centre showing that cyber crimes, particularly among financial institutions, had been on the rise in the country. A total of 415 cases were reported in the first half of this year, compared with 739 for the whole of 2002.
Russell Wallace, PwC’s Hong Kong-based head of computer forensics, said that with more than 90% of all data and records now prepared and saved in electronic format, the medium had also become a convenient source for those with criminal intent.
He said computers were now frequently used in the commission of a crime, a breach of company policy, industrial espionage, information brokerage and product piracy. “In short, if you’re looking at fraud investigation, you cannot do without including electronic data.”
Wallace said the process of retrieving data for use in an investigation was a crucial one as a person untrained in computer forensics could inadvertently help the criminal unintentionally, contaminating fragile computer data and making it inadmissible for legal purposes.
“It has to be seized in the correct way and preserved in its original context,” he said, describing the process of taking a “forensic image”.
He said computer forensics was a process of identifying, collecting, analysing and managing the huge amounts of electronic data available in an investigation.
“It may help find the missing link in an investigation much quicker than before, and perhaps even help recover some or all of the losses,” he said.
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