A new report reveals gambling-related fraud cost the Australian economy more than $104 million over five years.
A new report reveals gambling-related fraud cost the Australian economy more than $104 million over five years. Barry Leddicoat

Addicts ripping off employers

GOVERNMENT agencies, financial services and hospitality businesses are more likely than any other type of organisation to be ripped off by gambling addicts.

A new report reveals gambling-related fraud cost the Australian economy more than $104 million over five years.

The Warfield & Associates researchers examined 265 criminal cases of fraud - including one that went through Gladstone's courts - to produce the Gambling Motivated Fraud in Australia 2011-2016 study.

According to the research, a Calliope thief was responsible for about $32,000 of the $104 million stolen from Australian businesses over the five years.

The most common forms of crime were cash theft, electronic funds transfer rip-offs and false invoicing, the researchers found.

Employees were responsible for 56% of frauds and 57% of the 267 people convicted were men.

The report also shows that most male thieves used their ill-gotten funds to pay for a range of punting options which include online gambling.

Female offenders primarily put the money they stole through the pokies, the researchers found.

Study author Brett Warfield urged Gladstone business operators to ensure they had safeguards in place to prevent frauds.

"You can never completely stop fraud from happening but there are certainly lessons from most of the cases we examined,” Mr Warfield told ARM Newsdesk.

"Many of the frauds happened because employers did not have adequate internal controls in place for things like electronic funds transfers and paying of bills.

"Business should look at what controls they have over money going outside of your company - who can actually transfer the money and how many people approve the transfers.”

Mr Warfield also suggested business operators limit the amount of cash that can be paid out at any one time and also ensure only a few people are authorised to make payments.

"Have other controls in place so you can't just get on the system and send money.

"Make sure there is an additional identity process to prove that they are the person allowed to make funds transfers.

"And ensure the person responsible for reviewing payments checks every single payment and that they authorise it before it gets sent.”

Clubs Australia, which represents poker machine operators, said poker machine-related fraud in Australia accounted for less than 0.05% of total pokie expenditure.

A CA spokeswoman said the organisation worked with the Australian anti-money laundering regulator, AUSTRAC, to ensure all suspicious activities were reported.

"The overwhelming majority of the 1.5 million Australians that play a poker machine each year do so responsibly,” the spokeswoman said.

"For those that have difficulties in controlling the amount they spend on poker machines, clubs have world-class harm minimisation programs in place such as multi-venue self-exclusion which allows a person to ban themselves from up to 35 gaming machine venues, as well as free specialist gambling and financial counselling services.

"Clubs remain committed to working with law enforcement agencies tasked with cracking down on financial crime.”