A survey has found that white-collar crime, particularly computer-related offences, has worsened dramatically One in five Hong Kong companies have been the victim of computer fraud in the past two years, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey on white-collar crime has found. The bi-annual survey of 3,000 firms worldwide, including 85 Hong Kong companies, found there had been a twofold increase in computer fraud globally. The study blamed weak security measures for the rise in corporate crime, with companies reporting an average loss of US$685,000. PWC partner Tony Parton said the increase in computer-related crime in Hong Kong was partly due to the poor local economy and technological advances. He said companies would continue to experience fraud unless they began to implement stricter measures to combat corporate crime. 'Ninety five per cent of business and money transactions are now done by computer. With more people using computers every year, it is natural that cyber crime has increased substantially,' Mr Parton said. He added that a poor economy had led companies to pay greater attention to profits and, as a result, discover more instances of fraud. 'In many cases, the frauds may have stayed uncovered for a long time. But when a company's management starts paying more attention to profits, and there is more operational supervision, the frauds will be discovered,' he said. 'The poor economy also led the fraudsters to become more active in trying to get money to overcome personal financial problems.' Over recent years PwC has seen a 60 per cent increase in inquiries from companies wanting help to check their books and computer records for fraud. The illegal activity they are looking for includes cyber crime - such as the theft of clients' personal identification numbers - bribery and misappropriation of funds. Fake insurance claims are also turning out to be a major problem. 'The increase of alleged faked insurance claims is also related to the poor economy. When business is bad, companies or individuals are tempted to think they can cheat insurance companies,' Mr Parton said. In some cases, factories and warehouses piled with unwanted stock have been burnt down for the insurance money. 'Frauds will increase until companies improve their anti-fraud measures.'