Welcome to The Anti-Fraud Coalition’s Third Annual Fraud by the Numbers! This annual effort started as a COVID-era project to illustrate with real data how fraud impacts all of us. While a trillion dollars would have been an unfathomably large number a generation ago, we now routinely talk about annual government budgets approaching ten trillion dollars, and world-wide financial systems move multiples of that every year. Although less than trillions, a billion is still a lot of money. If you saved $100 a day (far outside the ability of an average American), it would take 27,397.26 years to save a billion dollars. And there is no dispute that as “trillions” in spending becomes the new normal “billions” continue to be lost to fraud every year: fraud on the government, tax evasion, securities fraud, insurance fraud and money laundering – to name a few. Each day in September, there will be a new blog post at noon with facts about fraud whistleblowing to help put these numbers in context we can all understand.
Three years into this project, there are two numbers that you still won’t see illustrated. First, how much future fraud is deterred by successful whistleblowing? Government lawyers, whistleblower lawyers, and compliance professionals will all tell you that fraud enforcement does have a deterrent effect. But there is no way to quantify it. Likewise, how many frauds have gone undetected over the years because honest and diligent witnesses to unlawful conduct did not know about laws to help them report what they knew and protect them while they did it? Again, there is no dispute that current enforcement efforts, including efforts initiated by whistleblowers, are not exposing all frauds. There’s just no way to quantify the undetected.
American Astronomer Carl Sagan once famously said: “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Just because we can’t precisely measure fraud deterrence, or how many instances of fraud have gone undetected, doesn’t mean whistleblowing doesn’t deter fraud or that existing whistleblowing efforts are adequate given the incidence of fraud. Fraud by the Numbers steers clear of the Absence Fallacy to illustrate the evidence of fraud we do have, how whistleblowing works, and why we need more of it. The numbers don’t lie; fraudsters do. Fraud by the Numbers is a massive undertaking each year, and we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their time researching, writing, and editing to make this year’s series a success:
– The Anti-Fraud Coalition staff: Jeb White (President & CEO), Jacklyn DeMar (Director of Legal Education), James King (Director of Communications & Digital), and Tianyi Xu (Public Interest Advocacy Fellow).
– The Anti-Fraud Coalition Public Education Committee Members Tony Munter (Price Benowitz, LLP), Nick Mendoza (Murphy Anderson PLLC) Molly Knobler (DiCello Levitt), and Noah Rich (Baron & Budd, P.C.) for their contributions in writing and editing many of the posts in this project.
– TAF Coalition Members Roger Wenthe (Roger Wenthe, PLLC), MaryAnne Hamilton (Miller Law Group, PLLC), Jonathan Kroner (Jonathan Kroner Law Office), Jonathan Tycko (Tycko & Zavareei LLP), Emily Stabile (Phillips & Cohen), Matthew Beddingfield (Zerbe, Miller, Fingeret, Frank & Jadav LLP), and Michael Sullivan (Finch McCranie).
We hope the complete Fraud by the Numbers collection – some 90 posts – will be helpful to whistleblower lawyers and lawyers for the government, but they are intended to be read and shared by non-lawyers, potential whistleblowers, and other people interested in the fight against fraud. Please share these posts, and use the numbers and collected resources in your own fight against fraud. If you want to follow more of TAF’s work in this area, please also subscribe to the weekly newsletter.
Kate Scanlan is a Founding Attorney at Keller Grover, LLP