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Benford's Law and Fraud Detection: Facts and Legends

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  • Andreas Diekmann
  • Ben Jann

Abstract

Is Benford's law a good instrument to detect fraud in reports of statistical and scientific data? For a valid test, the probability of 'false positives' and 'false negatives' has to be low. However, it is very doubtful whether the Benford distribution is an appropriate tool to discriminate between manipulated and non-manipulated estimates. Further research should focus more on the validity of the test and test results should be interpreted more carefully. Copyright 2010 The Authors. Journal Compilation Verein für Socialpolitik and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2010.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Verein für Socialpolitik in its journal German Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 11 (2010)
Issue (Month): (08)
Pages: 397-401

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Handle: RePEc:bla:germec:v:11:y:2010:i::p:397-401

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References

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  1. Andreas Diekmann, 2005. "Not the First Digit! Using Benford’s Law to Detect Fraudulent Scientific Data," Others 0507001, EconWPA.
  2. Andreas Diekmann, 2002. "Diagnose von Fehlerquellen und methodische Qualität in der sozialwissenschaftlichen Forschung [Sources of Bias and Quality of Data in Social Science Research]," ITA manu:scripts 02_04, Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA).
  3. Dewald, William G & Thursby, Jerry G & Anderson, Richard G, 1986. "Replication in Empirical Economics: The Journal of Money, Credit and Banking Project," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 587-603, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Susumu Shikano & Verena Mack, 2011. "When Does the Second-Digit Benford’s Law-Test Signal an Election Fraud? Facts or Misleading Test Results," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 231(5-6), pages 719-732, November.
  2. Bernhard Rauch & Max Göttsche & Gernot Brähler & Stefan Engel, 2011. "Fact and Fiction in EU‐Governmental Economic Data," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(3), pages 243-255, 08.

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