How Fraud Examiners Can Use Benford’s Law to Detect Fraud with a Click of a Button (Without Complex Excel Formulas)?

If you’re a fraud examiner in 2022 based in the USA, your work is cut out for you. You’re tasked with analyzing thousands of datasets to identify the perpetrators in what the papers call an “epic swindle” (aka fraud) of COVID-19 relief funds by individuals, businesses, and even organized crime syndicates. 

You’re using your tried and true tactics to carry out your work. For example, you might use Excel to detect unusual trends, comparing transaction dates with individual patterns to look for fraudulent activity.  

You might even use Benford’s Law — a common tactic in fraud investigations to discover ingenuine data reporting. To use it, most fraud examiners plug complex calculations into Excel to assess thousands of datasets. 

But despite Excel’s functionality, assessing Benford’s Law is time-consuming and tedious. 

You’re overworked and frustrated. But, most importantly, you want to speed up the process of recovering billions stolen through COVID relief fraud. 

ScanWriter’s made-for-purpose software can help you assess Benford’s Law quickly and seamlessly in a single click.

The result? Fraud examiners can weigh datasets against Benford’s Law in seconds — no more spending precious time and energy with complex Excel calculations. 

Today, we’ll explore:

  • Benford’s Law and how to use it in Excel
  • How Benford’s Law supports fraud investigations
  • How to use Benford’s Law in seconds with ScanWriter

Benford’s Law | Microsoft Excel v. ScanWriter

Benford’s Law is a mathematical principle showing lower-value numbers as prevalent among first digits for various financial data points. 

Think of any report with numbers. Corporation sales data? A country’s cancer-case reporting? Time and time again, large number sets reflect a distribution consistent with Benford’s Law — as long as they’re manually entered. 

About 30% of the data figures will start with the digit 1. Then, 18% will start with 2, sloping downward to the smallest proportion beginning with 9. 

Now, you can automate a Power BI visualization chart in ScanWriter to assess Benford’s Law in financial data sets. Displayed as a line graph, the line should ideally start at the top and slope downwards as you pass through numbers 1 to 9. Any discrepancies or deviations from the Benford line indicate the numbers were manipulated by fraudsters. 

The time to create one? Seconds, in ScanWriter. 

Of course, you could do the same in Excel — but it’s more complex and takes a while. 

Excel – The Cumbersome Way

Assessing Benford’s Law in Excel r