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Harnessing technology to combat fraud - Almost half of Middle East’s businesses have faced economic fraud in the last two years

March 04, 2020

Dubai, UAE – 4 March 2020: Fraud and economic crime rates remain at record highs, impacting companies in more ways than ever. PwC Middle East’s biennial survey which focuses on business crime reports that fraud committed by customers tops the list of all crimes experienced (at 47%), up from 36% in 2018. Middle East businesses report that customer fraud and procurement fraud are the most disruptive of all economic crimes.

Globally, all regions surveyed experienced customer fraud in the last two years, with the Middle East (47%, up from 36%) and North America (41% up from 32%) seeing the biggest increases.

The Middle East Economic Crime and Fraud Survey examines responses from 8 countries in the Middle East, and PwC globally examined responses from 99 countries around the world. The survey provides insights into the threat, cost of fraud and what companies need to do to develop stronger proactive responses.

PwC highlights the importance of prevention and how investing in the right skillset and technology can create an advantage.  More than half of organisations in the Middle East responded to economic crime by implementing and enhancing controls, and nearly three quarters of respondents conducted an investigation following an incident. However, less than a third reported instances of economic crime to their board, but of the organisations who did, 68% ended up in a better place. 

Achraf El Zaim, PwC Middle East’s Forensics Leader, adds: “With the rising rate of organisations falling victim to economic crime, a greater focus is needed to deploy the right talent and technologies to proactively build anti-fraud frameworks that allow businesses in the Middle East to identify fraud risks, respond quickly and ultimately emerge stronger.” 

Taking action and being prepared

While technology is just part of the answer in fighting fraud for organisations in the Middle East, the global report finds that more than 60% of organisations  are beginning to employ advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to combat fraud, corruption or other economic crime. However, concerns about deploying technology are linked to cost, insufficient expertise and limited resources. 

The benefit in using technology to fight fraud is undeniable but organisations must recognise that using tools and technologies alone does not amount to an anti-fraud programme. 

Mahmoud Al-Salah, Financial Crime Leader, PwC Middle East, says: “The great thing is that we’re seeing a change in regulations such as the introduction of Open Banking and Faster Payments which will drive customer experience. With the advancement in payment methods however, we’re also seeing an emerging generation of criminals who are becoming increasingly tech savvy. Financial institutions need to take timely action to strengthen their fraud prevention and detection frameworks and leverage the next generation fraud monitoring capabilities and advanced data analytics in order to fight fraud and protect customers and the bottom line.” 

“Collecting the right data is just the first step. How the data is analysed is where companies will have an advantage when fighting fraud. Companies often fail to see the value in technology when they don’t invest in the right skills and expertise to manage it” comments Kristin Rivera, PwC Global Forensics Leader.

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