The profile

MNP provided this graphic illustrating the characteristics of the average fraudster.

A national study released Tuesday by MNP, a national accounting, tax and business consulting firm, showed alarming details about the profile of who’s committing fraud in Canada.

People between the ages of 40 and 59 executed 62 per cent of frauds over $5,000 in Canada between 2012 and 2018. Of the 206 cases, many were over the age of 65.

There are twice the number of male fraudsters and men are four times more likely to commit employee theft than women.

Most alarming, but not surprising, is many who were convicted held positions of trust within the corporation.

In 16% of cases, there were repeat offenders as employers didn’t bother to do a background check (or, the previous employer didn’t tell the truth when called for a reference.)

“Where many companies fail is continued screening and scrutiny,” former RCMP investigator Greg Draper, who provides forensics and litigation support for MNP, said in a statement.

“Once trust is established, it’s common for certain internal controls to become more relaxed. Organizations need to establish a long-term and consistent commitment to fraud prevention at every level of the organization — including board members, since they are the ones managing the most senior people.”

Scams include ponzi schemes, fraudulent billing, payroll fraud and inventory misappropriation.

Less than 10% of corporate fraudsters are in their 20s and, according to the study, the older the culprit, the more money is stolen.

Of the middle-aged and senior fraudsters, the motive for stealing was often to supplement retirement income.

Nobody must have a conscience anymore.

So, what can be done?

As the study suggests, businesses have to become more vigilant and managers need to start paying attention and asking uncomfortable questions.

But, the court system can also be part of the solution. White-collar crime often goes unpunished, even though it’s equally offensive to shoplifting — just not as blatant. Crown counsel prioritizes cases (violent crime is rightfully at the top of the list) and due to workload, fraud is pushed to the bottom.

Fraud, in many ways, is the perfect crime because the chance of being detected is minimal and the odds against prosecution are even better.

James Miller is managing editor of The Kelowna Daily Courier.