On May 27th, 2021, more than 20 anti-fraud specialists from companies, non-governmental organizations, public institutions, and authorities took part in the first edition of FRAUD SUMMIT, the largest event in our country dedicated to anti-fraud and anti-fraud investigations. The event was organized by SPIA, leader of the Romanian new generation of private investigators, with the support of act Botezatu Estrade Partners law firm as Main Partner, together with wall-street.ro and Kiss FM, Media Partners.
Guests of FRAUD SUMMIT’s first panel were Nicoleta Mehlsen – Vice President of APCF (Association for Fraud Prevention and Combating) – and Dragoș Stanca – President of BRAT, tech entrepreneur & media expert- and set the context in which we talk about fraud, its fingerprint, and the measures to counteract its effects.
A graduate of the Faculty of Economics in Craiova and an MBA in Business Administration from Lubin School of Business NYC, USA, Nicoleta Mehlsen is a Certified Fraud Examiner by ACFE USA, the largest anti-fraud organization in the world and a leading provider of anti-fraud training and education, Vice President of APCF Romania and member of the Board of Directors of ACFE Denmark. She has over 15 years of international experience in internal audit, financial control, end-to-end supply chain, risk management and fraud prevention.
APCF, the Association for the Prevention and Combating of Fraud, is a non-profit association that aims to create a solid pole of specialists in a complex field, such as fraud risk management, compliance and information security, and the development of a solid anti-fraud culture in Romania.
Dragoș Stanca is the majority shareholder of Thinkdigital (agency and advertising network active in Eastern and Southern Europe) and founder of UPGRADE 100 ( the content, networking and events platform dedicated to the digital transformation developed based on the former iCEE.fest festival). In 2018, he was voted and then reconfirmed in 2020 by the representatives of the most important media companies, investors in advertising and advertising agencies as president of BRAT (Romanian Transmedia Audit Bureau), the largest organization that deals with auditing site audiences , outdoor and Romanian press.
Nicoleta Mehlsen: Fraud will not disappear; it adapts to the context and becomes smarter.
According to Nicoleta Mehlsen’s definition, fraud is an act of deception committed to gain personal gain or cause loss to another party.
Fraud is a phenomenon that has existed since the beginning of humanity, will continue to exist, and become more and more intelligent. In this context, companies’ anti-fraud approach differs. Most of them believe and say that it can’t happen to them. Others say they implement control and detection measures, while another part of the companies leaves everything to external suppliers, be they lawyers, teams of auditors or anti-fraud departments.
But what are those weapons that are much more effective than audits and control measures implemented in companies, in the opinion of the APCF Vice President? Anti-fraud culture and education. Perhaps this is why, in the Romanian business environment, fraud is a topic that is not discussed at all: not only is there no anti-fraud education, but even recognizing its existence in companies is seen as difficult to accept.
According to the Report to the Nations 2020, a global study conducted by ACFE on occupational abuse and fraud, 40% of fraud in a company is detected based on a tip received from employees, which is addressed to superiors or the anti-fraud department when the employee knows he works for an ethical company and notices irregularities. Another 33% of frauds are detected based on a similar mechanism, through the implemented whistleblowing channels, while 15% of frauds that take place in a company are discovered by an internal audit.
Nicoleta Mehlsen says that the best investment made in her internal audit team was body language training and interviewing techniques, because they offered the auditors a clearly superior advantage in their work.
Dragoș Stanca: What unites the activity of an investigator with that of an investigative journalist is the fight to find out the truth and to expose any act of corruption. Corruption is not only in the state-citizen relationship or public authorities. Corruption is also a matter of good ethics in the private sector, it is also a matter of ethics in the way you do business. All these things are related to the passion for fairness, ethics and finding out the truth.
The passion for truth and the passion for identifying fraud that harms the public interest are the principles that underlie an investigative journalist, in Dragoș Stanca’s opinion.
“The passion for fraud is a business model perpetuated by global platforms, which exclusively encourage the production of quantity. In communication, fraud translates into click-bait, SEO fraud or other methods that try, sometimes with great success, to attract our attention and clicks, which are the goods currently traded online. Unfortunately, the digital ecosystem is, at this moment, a major flaw in this imbalance: quantity is paid; you pay the cheapest click, the cheapest display. Therefore, fraud occurs – trust fraud, attention fraud, content fraud.
Another type of fraud encountered more and more often in the online environment is traffic fraud (bots or software) or vanity metrics fraud (number of likes, views, followers, etc.).
Digital media fraud is a much broader concept. I hope that, in time, all these issues that seriously affect the media ecosystem will be addressed.”
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