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About fraud in Australia

Due to its hidden nature, the overall scale of fraud in Australia is unknown.

What we do know about fraud in Australia:

  • Fraud is a significant problem for everyone. Fraud takes money away from essential government services, exploits vulnerable people, erodes community confidence in the integrity of public administration, and puts public safety at risk.
  • Fraud is common. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, there are over 100,000 instances of reported fraud and corruption against the Commonwealth each year.
  • Fraud is costly. Conservative estimates suggest the actual cost is billions of dollars per year.
  • Fraud directly impacts the lives of everyday Australians. For example, the Australian Institute of Criminology estimate that 1 in 4 Australians have been a victim of identity crime at some point in their lives. Identity crime is a key enabler of serious and organised crime.
  • Serious and organised crime is involved. Serious and organised criminals are using sophisticated methodologies to target multiple Commonwealth programs.
  • Fraud is becoming increasingly complex. Fraudsters are adopting new technology and more sophisticated methodologies to commit fraud.

Fraud against the Commonwealth

Fraud against the Commonwealth includes dishonestly obtaining a benefit, or causing a loss, by deception or other means. This includes activities such as:

  • theft
  • fraudulent accounting
  • providing false or misleading information to the Commonwealth
  • cartel conduct
  • misuse of Commonwealth assets.

Fraud does not need to be criminal in nature; it can be civil or administrative. Fraud can occur internally, where fraud is committed against an entity by its employees or contractors. It can also occur externally, where fraud is committed by an individual or group outside the entity such as clients, service providers or members of the public.

Part 3 of the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework provides a comprehensive fraud definition.

Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Centre logo


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