Australian Institute of Criminology

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Serious fraud in Australia and New Zealand

Research and public policy series no. 48

Australian Institute of Criminology and PricewaterhouseCoopers
ISBN 0 642 24290 9 ISSN 1326-6004
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, June 2003

Abstract

This study - a joint project between the Australian Institute of Criminology and PricewaterhouseCoopers - provides an analysis of a sample of serious fraud prosecutions completed in 1998 and 1999 throughout Australia and New Zealand. The findings provide an indication of how serious fraud is committed, how much loss is suffered, the characteristics of offenders and victims, offender motivations, rationalisations and mitigating factors, and certain key indicators relating to the judicial processing of cases, including how cases were discovered, the length of investigations, and the sentences imposed on offenders. Finally, the study identifies certain key risk factors behind the commission of the crimes. The findings confirm that serious fraud in Australia and New Zealand is both prevalent and costly, while the application of criminal justice responses raises many challenging investigatory, legal and practical issues. Being better informed with respect to the nature and extent of the problem will help people involved in dealing with such cases to plan their responses and, hopefully, also help prevent those at risk of victimisation from falling prey to offenders.