Luxury sprees of Aussie fraudster employees after stealing $350million from employers

Author: Yuvi September 30, 2022


The number one way Australians stealing from their companies were caught has been revealed in a new report into workplace fraud – and it happens when they are not at work.

A new report by forensic accounts Warfield & Associates into 102 cases of million-dollar fraud committed against Australian employers by staff found $350million was stolen between 2012 and 2022.

But it’s believed when amounts under $1million are counted the true figure would easily be that much every year.

The number one way Australians stealing from their companies were caught has been revealed in a new report into workplace fraud – when they are not at work

Employees who committed fraud to improve their lifestyle had lavish spending patterns beyond the wildest dreams of their unsuspecting co-workers

Employees who committed fraud to improve their lifestyle had lavish spending patterns beyond the wildest dreams of their unsuspecting co-workers

The main two reasons people stole were to improve their own lifestyle or to gamble, said the report, which was based on Australian court records where criminal convictions resulted.

Those who committed fraud to improve their lifestyle paid for a dizzying array of luxury goods and travel.

They bought jewelry and designer clothes, and paid for cosmetic surgery, lavish holidays, houses, sports cars and in one case, two ‘specialist military’ vehicles.

Many also bought drugs, paid for escorts and splurged at strip clubs.

They bought jewelry and designer clothes, and paid for cosmetic surgery, lavish holidays, houses, sports cars

They bought jewelry and designer clothes, and paid for cosmetic surgery, lavish holidays, houses, sports cars

One Australian fraudster who stole from their employer spent $400,000 just on jewelry

One Australian fraudster who stole from their employer spent $400,000 just on jewelry

Corporate investigator Brett Warfield told Daily Mail Australia the most common way perpetrators get caught is when they go on holiday or leave a company.

‘Overwhelmingly it happens when they leave the organization for a holiday or leave for good then someone comes in and does their job.

‘That’s why some people don’t take holidays, because if they’re away from their job someone else gets their emails and phone calls and they see things like unusual purchase orders.’

One man who spent $65,000 on holidays preferred to stay closer to home, dropping $134,073 in strip clubs and $41,875 on 'luxury goods'

One man who spent $65,000 on holidays preferred to stay closer to home, dropping $134,073 in strip clubs and $41,875 on ‘luxury goods’

One Australian man spent $300,000 on 26 designer watches after defrauding his employer

One Australian man spent $300,000 on 26 designer watches after defrauding his employer

The pay clerk who bought a Pie Face store

One woman who was a payroll officer from a packaging company used the $4.142million she stole on 220 occasions from her employer to buy a Pie Face franchise.

She also invested in properties, payments to relatives and entertaining friends and relatives at social and sporting events.

Her sentence was six years and four months jail with a non-parole period of four years.

Mr Warfield said over 30 years examining workplace fraud had shown him the criminals in an organization are not always the people you’d expect.

‘What we hear again and again is ‘we never would have suspected them’, so it really is the quiet ones you’ve got to watch.’

To collect the data Warfield & Associates sifted through court cases between 2012 and 2022 and found 102 cases totaling $349,996,063.

Of the 102 cases, 52 took more than five years to discover.

Most had lavish spending patterns beyond the wildest dreams of their unsuspecting co-workers.

One spent $400,000 on jewelry and $220,000 on designer clothes, while another dropped $280,000 on two Porsches, giving one to his girlfriend before spending $300,000 on 26 designer watches.

Another bought an Aston Martin car and bizarrely, a doll house worth $10,000.

One woman drew attention to herself when she bought three ‘special interest military vehicles’ for her husband.

The main two reasons people stole were to improve their own lifestyle or to gamble, said the report, which was based on Australian court records where criminal convictions resulted

The main two reasons people stole were to improve their own lifestyle or to gamble, said the report, which was based on Australian court records where criminal convictions resulted

One woman drew attention to herself when she bought three 'special interest military vehicles' for her husband

One woman drew attention to herself when she bought three ‘special interest military vehicles’ for her husband

The building company manager’s $21m fraud

In one of the largest cases a finance manager in a construction company stole $20.7million using 300 fake invoices over 12 years.

He spent his stolen millions on expensive thoroughbred horses, at least six properties and on his lover.

He received a 15-year jail term, with a non-parole period of five years.

One man purchased expensive properties in his own name and wife’s name and bought interests in 111 horses totaling $7million.

Travel was predictably popular with fraudsters, with one person taking holidays worth $367,000 over eight years and another spending $250,000 on travel and accommodation.

In another case a woman bought a car, holidays to Fiji and Queensland, jewelry and funded her then boyfriend’s failed career as a rap musician before paying for undisclosed legal fees for him.

One man who spent $65,000 on holidays preferred to stay closer to home, dropping $134,073 in strip clubs and $41,875 on ‘luxury goods’.

One bought a cafe worth $600,000 while another ran a drag-racing business.

In most cases the fraudsters carried out their crimes on their own, although in 10 cases they had help inside their companies, with things such as false invoicing.

‘Ten cases involved collusion between the perpetrator and either another employee or external party such as a supplier or contractor,’ the report said.

One Australian fraudster spent $280,000 on two Porsches, giving one to his girlfriend

One Australian fraudster spent $280,000 on two Porsches, giving one to his girlfriend

One man purchased expensive properties in his own name and wife's name and bought interests in 111 horses totaling $7 million

One man purchased expensive properties in his own name and wife’s name and bought interests in 111 horses totaling $7 million

The most popular type of employer targeted were construction companies, which had 11 cases, just ahead of banks, with 10.

Overall 15 finance sector companies were targeted.

On average each case averaged $3.431million but the largest was $27.4million.

Of the 102 cases only 11 had prior criminal records for similar offenses and 57 per cent of the perpetrators were men.

False invoicing and electronic funds transfer fraud were the most prevalent ways in which frauds were perpetrated.

The report also showed how difficult it is to get away with fraud because of the many ways to be caught out.

While they often were caught after leaving work or taking a holiday, several employees were caught out over dodgy bills for hotels and bar tabs.

In one case a subcontractor approached a Chief Operating Officer at a function asking for more contract work.

The request exposed a discrepancy between the work they were doing and the work records said they were paid for.

Travel was predictably popular with Australian fraudsters, with one person taking holidays worth $367,000 over eight years

Travel was predictably popular with Australian fraudsters, with one person taking holidays worth $367,000 over eight years

In another case a new Chief Financial Officer decided to dig into the previous spending records of staff.

Mr Warfield said small and medium-sized businesses tend to be most at risk of internal fraud but not always.

‘Some very large organizations have suffered millions of dollars of losses over many years and really should be dealing with the risks much better.’

30 September, 2022, 7:14 am

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