Why do people commit fraud? And how do they often get away with it?

This was the topic of Professor Clinton Free’s talk at Learn@Lunch – the UNSW Business School’s daytime lecture series for graduates and students.

Professor Free's research has seen him interview inmates of US prisons convicted of insider trading, credit card fraud, money laundering and other financial crimes. Lone-wolfs like the high-profile American Bernie Madoff may not be the ones we most have to watch out for.

Instead, Professor Free argues that the extent of co-offending or collusion is higher than thought, with the vast majority of recent major frauds involving extensive collaboration between individuals.

Fraud has a greater economic impact on society than any other type of crime. It is very difficult to detect and can begin with someone spotting a single weakness within an organisation. In 2012, KPMG reported that 43% of its respondent firms experienced fraud in that year.

Why do would-be criminals choose to steal in teams? What role do childhood friendships and personal relationships play in committing fraud? What can auditing and forensic accounting do to catch more white collar criminals?

Listen to the full podcast below of Professor Clinton Free’s Learn@Lunch lecture.

You can also listen to podcasts from previous Learn@Lunch lectures.​​