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

How Bundaberg gambling addicts added to $104m fraud

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

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 three that went through Bundaberg's courts and a Bundaberg theft case that was heard in Toowoomba - to produce the Gambling Motivated Fraud in Australia 2011-2016 study.

According to the research, three Bundaberg thieves were responsible for about $431,000 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 including online gambling.

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

Study author Brett Warfield urged Bundaberg 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.”

The Australian Wagering Council and the Australasian Gaming Council did not respond to our request for comment.

Addict stole $295,000 from indigenous corporation

OF THE three Bundaberg cases of gambling-related fraud examined by the Warfield & Associates researchers, Warren Edwin Attfield's was the worst.

A Toowoomba District Court judge sentenced Attfield to six years behind bars in November 2011 after the compulsive gambler stole $295,000 from a Bundaberg indigenous corporation.

Attfield lost every cent of the stolen money by backing horses through the TAB.

The then 62-year-old had no criminal history in Australia but The Chronicle in Toowoomba detailed how he stole $2.8 million from a New Zealand company in 1996.

In the Toowoomba case, Attfield made 276 fraudulent transactions using a company credit card, cheques and electronic money transfers over 30 months.

The convicted fraudster was eligible for parole in May 2014.