The digital transformation of business places increasing reliance on internal networks and global interconnectivity to gain competitive advantages and creates more targets for criminals to attack.
The estimated global cost of corporate fraud, based on an analysis of 2,100 cases in 133 countries, is staggering:
- Organizations lose 5% of annual revenue every year.
- Average loss per case was nearly $2 million.
- Ninety-one percent of cases reported losses of more than $1 million.
Regarding economic crime, data published in 2022 by the Association of Certified Forensics Examiners suggests that the global cost to organizations is more than $4.7 trillion annually. However, it noted: “Measuring the true extent of the damage caused by occupational fraud can be challenging due to the inherent nature of concealment and deception involved in most schemes.”
How Is Economic Crime Forensics Different From Financial Forensics?
The two disciplines are broadly related, and responsibilities overlap. On the one hand, the role of economic crime forensic scientists involves uncovering the contexts in which economic crime occurs (crimes committed by individuals or groups to obtain financial or professional advantage). It involves advancing preventive measures including:
- Evaluating and supporting accounting and auditing processes related to economic crime
- Proposing business law standards and ethics and professional standards to prevent it
- Using data analytics and advanced technologies to deter economic fraud
On the other hand, Financial forensics professionals, are typically concerned with collecting, preserving and presenting evidence in legal proceedings in the wake of economic crime. Moreover, they generally hold credentials such as Certified Public Accountants, Certified Financial Forensics Examiners and Master Analysts in Financial Forensics.
How Do Criminals Attack Businesses?
The criminal toolbox includes artificial intelligence and sophisticated cyber tactics to phish for access to devices, internal and external networks and data. Discovering and exploiting vulnerabilities enables cybercriminals to insert ransomware and crack blockchain security to commit fraud, launder money, counterfeit money, embezzle funds, bribe and con people into pyramid schemes.
It’s an escalating duel between organizations and criminals. This battle is driving demand for economic crime forensics scientists with advanced expertise in data analysis to uncover, investigate and suggest strategies that close vulnerabilities before fraudsters can exploit them.
“The same technologies that are responsible for creating the present-day digital criminal ecosystem can be harnessed to detect and, in many cases, prevent these crimes before they occur,” according to Deloitte.
How Do Professionals Acquire Economic Crime Forensics Expertise?
Organizations rely heavily on data generated by all business functions and shared internally and with external partners. The growing threat of fraud requires economic crime forensics scientists to have a robust understanding of how digital assets operate and the connections among them.
The La Salle University Master of Science (M.S.) in Economic Crime Forensics with a Specialization in Data Science online program prepares graduates for high-demand careers such as:
- Fraud examiner. Data analytics support criminal detection and prevention by enabling examiners to identify patterns, anomalies and other economic crime indicators. The average annual salary for fraud examiners is $72,049.
- Fraud investigator. A term often used interchangeably with fraud examiner, the role of fraud investigator is distinct in that it focuses primarily on transactional data analysis, data mining, predictive analytics and digital surveillance evidence to build legal and civil cases against economic criminals. Fraud investigators earn an average annual salary of $40,425.
- Forensics investigator. Forensic investigators use data analytics to discover hidden, potentially criminal, relationships among individuals and organizations. They also use data analytics to detect unusual behavior patterns and accelerate investigative decision-making. They earn an annual average salary of $79,353.
Graduates with an advanced degree in economic crime forensics focused on data science are ready to pursue any number of roles in the field. Their versatile skill set in topics like big data, crime technology, artificial intelligence and more set them up for success in an increasingly digitized world.Learn more about La Salle University’s online M.S. in Economic Crime Forensics with a Specialization in Data Science program.