It seems impossible, until it is done
Fraud is, unfortunately, one of the realities that many South Africans must deal with on a daily basis.
This was the theme of the recently held South African Fraud Prevention Service’s (SAFPS) Fraud Summit held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the 24th and 25th of July. This year’s conference was hosted in collaboration with the Insurance Crime Bureau
United in the fight
Overtime, it has become clear that South Africans must be unified in the fight against fraud. It has also become obvious that combating fraud effectively will require, strong, collaborative leadership.
“Fraud is something that affects us all, and the consequences of fraud are far reaching. Walking the road towards exposing fraud, and fighting against it, is not easy. Therefore, the efforts of the SAFPS and other fraud prevention agencies play a key role in combatting this kind of crime,” said SAFPS Executive Director Manie van Schalkwyk.
Complacency is a worry
Fraud is nothing new in the South African insurance industry. However, the rules have changed, and as criminals become more sophisticated the role of investigators and bodies like the SAFPS has become ever more important.
“Since the rise of the internet, the fraud playing field has changed. Particularly in South Africa. In 2000, there were 2.4 million internet users in South Africa. In 2018, this has increased to 30.8 million users,” said Van Schalkwyk.
He added that this increase in users comes with significant risk. In 2018, the world is increasingly run by smart devices, putting even our cars and homes at risk, and with the occurrence of malware and ransomware becoming ever more commonplace, cyber security is emerging as an important consideration within the industry.
“Since the company's inception in 2001, the SAFPS member organisations have successfully fought financial crime and in 2017 alone, SAFPS members reported savings of over R2.3 billion, because of fraud prevented through the sharing of SAFPS data,” said Van Schalkwyk.
Dropping the ball
One of the features of the Summit was that we all labour under the perception that it is difficult to commit fraud; however, the reality is that fraud is easier than one would hope.
The keynote speaker at the conference was Brad Sadler, the Founder of Pros and ExCons, who served a four-year prison sentence for a fraud he committed while he was a Credit and Area Manager at NBS Corporate Bank.
“People think that controls, policies and procedures are restrictive. And are very quick to go for a perceived good thing and ignore procedure when they are making money or when their businesses are profitable. Those who are committing fraud need to take a step back and seriously reconsider their actions,” said Sadler.
The scary thing is that we are seeing more cases of fraud where the fraudster is a person of authority within a company. When we are careful how we use authority we succeed. Respect comes from what we do, not from our title” said Sadler.
A different approach
While it can be tricky to detect fraud, and those who commit fraud, we now have the tools to make this task easier.
“Data is the new oil, and how we interpret data can give us key insights into human behaviour. If we want to understand fraud better, we ultimately need to understand people better,” said Lee Naik, CEO of TransUnion Africa.
He added that we need to ask the right questions when it comes to data and then connect the dots. Can a company make the connection that a person who changes their sim card three times in a month is possibly corrupt?
“We need to use the data that we have on hand in better and smarter ways. In this way, we can combat fraud effectively,” said Naik.
The 2018 Fraud Summit was a success and the SAFPS is already looking for key note speakers for next year’s summit.
“During the month where our former President, the great Nelson Mandela, would have turned 100, we can be encouraged by his words of wisdom. It always seems impossible, until it is done! The fight against fraud will be long and hard; and there will be many times when we feel like we are winning, and many times where we will feel like we are losing. But we cannot be silent when it comes to this issue. The SAFPS has drawn a line in the sand and is ready to take the battle to the fraudsters doorstep. However, we cannot do this alone, we need to collaborate. We do not have the luxury to think we can do this alone,” said Van Schalkwyk.
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