United Kingdom


  • Service: Advisory, Risk Consulting, Management Consulting
  • Type: Press release
  • Date: 05/11/2013

Invisible criminals to replace people as biggest perpetrators of fraud 


Computers, rather than conmen, are set to be the future face of fraud, as criminals turn to robotics in an effort to avoid detection.  According to the latest report from KPMG,  organisations are set to battle against so-called “seeker bots” - defined as self-learning and self-replicating Artificial Intelligence that will render the faces of criminals invisible. 


KPMG’s ‘Profile of a Fraudster’ report is based on analysis of 596 fraudsters investigated by the firm between 2011 and 2013. Based on the modus operandi of their crimes, it predicts that traditional fraudsters (identified by KPMG as 36 – 45 years of age, acting against is/her own organisation and in an executive positions), will be replaced by “seeker bots”.


These “bots” will be designed to continuously test a company’s cyber defences to find a “hole in the fence” meaning that attempts to second guess or pre-empt tactics used by real people will not always be worthwhile.  The report warns that, on finding a gap, the bots will analyse the potential for fraud and then launch a highly specialised “attack bot”, uniquely designed to suit the type of business, size, infrastructure and data setup of the victim. The aim will be to remove assets to a virtual delivery location which can then be accessed by the fraudsters.


Hitesh Patel, UK Head of Forensic at KPMG, says: “This is not science fiction, but a taste of things to come. We are already seeing highly trained hackers link up with the organised crime network and the faceless criminal is not far away. Cyber crime is already on the rise and we expect cyber-attacks and high-tech fraud to grow exponentially.”


KPMG’s report argues that, to unravel the frauds of the future, the best investigators will be those who are able to reduce large amounts of data to identifiable events.  Yet some skills will remain as current tomorrow as they are today, with successful defence requiring an ability to operate seamlessly across borders, sharing corporate intelligence to ensure quick historical and geographical reach enables organisations to track ‘bot behavioural patterns’ as quickly as they happen.


At the same time, the report reveals that the criminal(s) behind the changing face of fraud are by nature collaborative, preferring to collude with others instead of following the perceived stereotype of a reclusive loner.  The data shows that the proportion of cases involving collusion rose from 32 percent in the 2007 survey, to 61 percent in 2011 and 70 percent in 2013.In many cases, perpetrators were highly respected (39 percent of all cases analysed), regarded as sociable (35 percent) and/or an extrovert (33 percent).


Hitesh concludes: A few years ago, hackers were motivated by political objectives and seen as disruptive influences targeting computer networks to make an ideological point.  Most were seen as individuals trying to make a name for themselves, but with an ability to master Artificial Intelligence, it’s only a matter of time until fraudsters harness the full power of technology to enrich themselves and criminal organisations, unless legitimate businesses take steps to defend themselves.


“A plausible person is no longer needed to present a stolen cheque at a bank teller; all that’s needed is a hacker who can access a protected computer network. Perhaps human features and emotions will no longer be a significant part of the profile; instead, electronic features, signatures and behaviours may be all that a victim organisation will know of the cyber fraudster.”


Click here to view the full report



Media enquiries:

Mike Petrook, KPMG Press Office
020 7311 5271 (t), 07917 384 576 (m) or

Notes to Editors:

About KPMG


KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with over 11,000 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.7 billion in the year ended September 2011. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. We operate in 152 countries and have 145,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  KPMG International provides no client services.


About the report


By means of a survey, KPMG gathered data from fraud investigations conducted by KPMG member firms’ forensic specialists in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMA), the Americas, and Asia-Pacific regions between August 2011 and February 2013. We analyzed a total of 596 fraudsters who were involved in acts committed in 78 countries. The survey examined “white collar” crime investigations conducted across the three regions where we were able to identify the perpetrator and could provide detailed contextual information on the crime.

The analysis identifies:



  • Fraudster profiles and details of the more common types of fraud
  • Environmental conditions that tend to enable fraud
  • Sanctions applied by victim organizations or by public prosecutors

The findings in this report are contrasted, where possible, with our 2007 and 2011 analysis to highlight shifts in patterns and to provide a perspective on emerging trends.


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