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Triage in forensic accounting using Zipf's law

Odueke, Adeola and Weir, George (2012) Triage in forensic accounting using Zipf's law. In: Issues in Cybercrime, Security and Digital Forensics. University of Strathclyde Publishing, Glasgow, pp. 33-43. ISBN 0947649859

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n forensic accounting, use of Benford's law has long been acknowledged as a technique for identifying anomalous numerical data. Zipf's law has received considerably less attention in this domain despite the fact that it is not limited to analysis of numerical datasets. The present paper outlines the context of fraud detection and then describes an experiment that contrasted Benford's law and Zipf's law as highlighters for data anomaly, with a view to enhancing current techniques in fraud detection. Results from tests on two datasets using each technique showed similarities in the samples characterized as 'fraudulent' from which we propose that, when combined with its extended realm of data applicability, Zipf's law has significant potential as an aid to fraud detection as a supplement to other analysis techniques. In particular, this approach could be employed as a component in forensic accounting triage in order to enhance the detection rate of fraud and assist in fraud prevention.