New data shows that age, job level and reporting procedures all have a strong effect on the likelihood that an employee will commit business travel expense fraud.

According to a survey of 1,200 business travellers in the UK, US and Australia by expense management software provider Chrome River, expense fraud could be costing companies billions of dollars every year.

The survey reveals that 82.9 per cent of expense fraud was committed by employees under the age of 44, making them the most likely group to submit incorrect expenses. They were followed by mid-level staff (58.1 per cent).

Vice presidents and senior VPs were the least likely to cheat on their expenses at 6.2 per cent.

Men also tend to be more fraudulent than their female counterparts, being nearly twice as likely to submit false claims and also four times more likely to pad out an expense report by a shocking US$1,000. Conversely, women were more likely to misreport amounts under $100.

Companies that use manual reporting with hard-copy receipts are twice as likely to be hit by expense fraud than those that utilise automated solutions.

A quarter of those surveyed said they have been caught committing fraud, with 75 per cent saying a warning was the most severe consequence of their actions.

According to data from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, expense reimbursement fraud accounts for 17 per cent of all business fraud, with smaller companies that typically have fewer controls suffering double the losses of larger firms.

Alan Rich, co-founder and CEO of Chrome River, commented: “Most people are inherently honest and they don’t intend to defraud their employer of huge amounts of money. More often, they’re just committing small acts that they don’t even view as ‘fraud’. And they do it because it’s possible and they don’t think anyone will notice.

“The best thing a company can do to protect itself is make it easier for employees to do the right thing, such as implementing an automated expense management solution which can, for example, alert employees if they are trying to submit the receipt twice. This type of gentle reminder can often be all that’s needed for employees to remain honest throughout the expense submission process.”

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