Here's something else to worry about in the nanosecond nineties: a surge in sophisticated business fraud. Corporate larceny appears to be on the rise, thanks to technology and the globalization of the marketplace. "Information technology makes it easier to move money around very rapidly, which makes it more difficult to trace and more difficult even to determine if there's been fraud to begin with," says Michael Carey, who is running a new fraud unit for KPMG Peat Marwick. "And as a result of globalization, investigators and prosecutors are often dealing with banking and currency laws that differ greatly from one country to the next."
Very rapid growth in a company can create ideal conditions for theft, notes Carey, who spent four years prosecuting complex fraud cases for the British government. That's because "your accounting systems and back office can't keep up. Of course, this is aggravated in smaller organizations where the person at the top wants to have his finger in everything. There's no clear division of responsibility among a group of people, which is the best way of preventing fraud in the first place."* * *