Nine in 10 organisations say the risk of fraud has increased as a direct result of home working.
Business advisory firm BDO found that while a third of fraudulent activity against companies came from external sources in 2021, 38% involved collusion between internal and external individuals and 29% of frauds were committed against companies by their own employees.
The survey of 500 mid-sized firms found that 84% experienced fraud last year, with more than a third of companies stating that fraudulent activity had increased.
The shift to home working was reported by many as a driving factor behind the increase in fraud, with 89% said it had a direct impact on the risk of fraud increasing.
However, two-thirds (67%) of the firms impacted by fraud reported that their employees had predominantly worked from the office or work premises over the last 12 months.
“Ongoing disruption wrought by the pandemic – including home working which has added complexity to the process of identifying and defending against cyber-attacks – has magnified the risk for businesses. The increasingly sophisticated and opportunistic tactics being developed by fraudsters have also outpaced the protections being implemented by many firms,” said BDO’s head of fraud Kaley Crossthwaite.
“As organisations re-evaluate their hybrid working models for the year ahead, they should pay particular attention to robust internal controls, including strengthening their fraud risk management programmes to lessen their exposure to financial crime.”
Despite the risk of fraud increasing, 26% said the level of fraud awareness among their employees has declined since the pandemic began. Sixty-three per cent had not implemented fraud awareness training over the past year.
Average losses totalled £223,000, the survey found. However, additional BDO research that analysed reported fraud cases between December 2020 and November 2021 found the total monetary value of reported fraud was £10bn, up from £474m in 2020 and the largest figure since BDO began monitoring fraud losses in 2003.