To coincide with Charity Fraud Awareness Week #CharityFraudOut, the Charity Commission for England and Wales and Fraud Advisory Panel has published the results of a survey of 3,000+ charities into fraud awareness.
A major finding was that charities need to be more aware of the threat of criminals, in particular those using technology to prey on victims.
The report states: “Charities in England and Wales spend nearly £80bn every year – a tempting target for fraudsters. Research suggests the cost to the sector is likely to be hundreds of millions, potentially billions of pounds each year.”
While technology is increasingly being leveraged to commit fraud, in the same way it can be harnessed to combat it.
There are some key, common factors that make fraud easier to commit (and series of offences harder to halt) that technology can effectively help mitigate:
• Under-reporting of fraud/potential fraud, usually arising from the difficulty in reporting. Technology can facilitate the fast, consistent logging of potential fraud incidents from a diverse range of sources and help quickly triage information to allow efficient analysis and expedited investigation, where required.
• Even where reporting does happen, with manual or spreadsheet-based processes, it is so much harder to identify potentially crucial links, patterns or trends. Technology provides the ability to instantly and automatically identify and highlight links, connections and patterns within the data. This might be the name of an individual; an address or geographic location; a telephone number or email address; a similar incident; a vehicle or even an identification based upon facial or entity recognition.
• Lack of information sharing and collaboration, allowing fraudsters already known to previous victims to target multiple further organisations without trace. A large amount of fraud could be prevented with better data sharing and collaboration between organisations. The same perpetrators typically target multiple organisations within the charity sector, often using the same approach and tools. Technology can support data sharing by capturing, processing and exporting information relating to fraud effectively and efficiently, in the required format, with full auditability and integrity. Open standards of interoperability mean that digital tools (through the use of APIs) can talk to other technology systems, sharing information and building intelligence across related organisations and the entire charitable sector.
With fraudsters employing ever-more sophisticated tools to commit more charity fraud year on year, isn’t it high time that technology was leveraged to fight back?