Glossary of terms

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Accounting fraud

Financial statements and/or other documents are altered or presented in such a way that they do not reflect the true value or financial activities of the organisation. This can involve accounting manipulations, fraudulent borrowings/raising of finance, fraudulent application for credit and unauthorised transactions/rogue trading.


Anti-Money Laundering

Anti-competitive/ Anti-trust

Criminal violations of laws that promote or maintain market competition by regulating anti-competitive and unfair business practices conduct by organisations. Examples may include price fixing, excessive, predatory or discriminatory pricing, unfair trading terms, and tying (i.e. stipulating that a buyer wishing to purchase one product must also purchase all or some of his requirements for a second product).

Asset misappropriation

The theft of assets (including monetary assets/cash or supplies and equipment). This includes embezzlement and deception by employees or theft of company property or assets by outsiders.


The unlawful use of an official position to gain an advantage in contravention of duty.  This can involve the promise of an economic benefit or other favour, the use of intimidation or blackmail.  It can also refer to the acceptance of such inducements.  Specific examples include kickbacks, extortion, gifts (with strings attached), facilitation payments, etc.

Brute force attack

Repeatedly guessing passwords to gain access.

Business conduct/ Misconduct (e.g. Incentive abuse)

Frauds or deception by companies upon the market or general public. Deceptive practices associated with the manufacturing, sales, marketing or delivery of a company’s products or services to its clients, consumers or the general public.


Dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery or conflict of interest.


Any criminal offense committed by or facilitated through the use of computer equipment.


Malicious activity aimed at affecting the availability, confidentiality or integrity of computer systems for data.

Cyber Security Program

The people, processes and technology that assess, build, manage and responds to cyber security risk within an organisation.

Economic crime

The intentional use of deceit or other criminal conduct to deprive another of money, property or a legal right or to effectuate an economic harm.

Extortion (ransomware)

Computer malware that installs covertly on a device and locks the system until a sum of money is paid.

Fraud committed by the consumer

Fraud against a company through illegitimate use of, or deceptive practices associated with, its products or services by customers or others (e.g. mortgage fraud, credit card fraud).

Geopolitical environment

Relating to politics, especially international relations, as influenced by geographical factors.

Human Resources fraud (recruitment and/or payroll fraud)

Fraud committed by members of the Human Resources department, including payroll fraud, ghost employees, pay-to-work, recruitment (i.e., hiring friends and/or relatives, hiring unqualified individuals, falsification of documents, etc.).

Incentives and/or pressures to perform

The individual has some financial problem that he/she is unable to solve through legitimate means so he/she begins to consider committing an illegal act as a way to solve the problem.  The financial problem can be professional (e.g., job is in jeopardy) or personal (e.g., personal debt).

Intellectual Property (IP) theft

IP theft including the theft of intellectual property and trade secrets as well as the intentional criminal use of a patent, copyright or trademark and the trafficking of counterfeit products and services.   This does not include non-criminal infringement of a patent, copyright or trademark that can be remedied under civil law.

Insider trading

Insider trading refers generally to buying or selling a security, in breach of a fiduciary duty or other relationship of trust and confidence, while in possession of material, non-public information about the security.  Insider trading violations may also include ‘tipping’ such information, securities trading by the person ‘tipped’, and securities trading by those who misappropriate such information.

Malware (viruses, Trojan horses)

Any form of malicious software that infects your network, servers, devices, or end user computers, including ransomware, remote access tools, network sniffing software, and botnet software.

Man in the middle

The creation of a website that appears to be yours and passes information between you and the end user, deceiving the end user into providing information to the bad actor.

Money laundering

Actions intended to conceal or legitimise the proceeds of crime by disguising their true origin, thereby making illegally-gained proceeds (i.e. "dirty money") appear legal (i.e. "clean").

Network scanning

Using software or other tools to identify open ports or other vulnerabilities in your network’s connection to the internet


The individual finds some way that he/she can use (abuse) his/her position of trust to solve the financial problem with a low perceived risk of getting caught.


Communications via email, SMS, telephone, etc., that, through the guise of legitimacy, seek information or place malicious software in your environment through a benign looking link or file.

Procurement fraud

Illegal conduct involving the purchase of services, goods or assets for the affected organisation, or involving bid/tender processes.


The individual finds a way to justify the crime to himself/herself in a way that makes it an acceptable or justifiable act.

Risk assessment

These are used to ascertain whether an organisation has undertaken an exercise to specifically consider:

  • The risks to which operations are exposed;

  • An assessment of the most threatening risks (i.e., Evaluate risks for significance and likelihood of occurrence);

  • Identification and evaluation of the controls (if any) that are in place to mitigate the key risks;

  • Assessment of the general compliance related programs and controls in an organisation; and actions to remedy any gaps in the controls.

Technology (industry)

e.g. Computer hardware, software, office equipment, I.T.

Tax fraud

An illegal practice where an organisation or corporation intentionally avoids paying its true tax liability.


Contact us

Didier Lavion

Principal, Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey Leader, PwC United States

Tel: +1 (646) 818 7263

Kristin Rivera

Global Forensics Leader, Partner, PwC United States

Tel: +1 (415) 302-3428