Global Fraud Footprint

Global deforestation facilitated via fraud

Illegal logging companies in the Amazon regions, which are driving deforestation, are using multiple fraud schemes. They include fake or forged permits based on fraudulent information; corruption and collusion of and with officials who are supposed to enforce timber regulations; and front companies to avoid taxes.



During the summer of 2020, images and reports of fires raging in the world’s largest rainforest pervaded news cycles and social media for the second consecutive year. Deforestation and climate change have become a focus of debates about environmental impacts and the sustainability of logging, ranching and agricultural industries.

Although Amazon countries’ governments offer legal mechanisms for timber extraction and land clearing for agricultural or livestock purposes, illegal logging continues to plague the region. Governments in the Amazon region face an immense challenge combating illegal logging and the resulting deforestation. This is because of difficulties monitoring remote operations using limited resources, which leads to significant environmental and financial impacts. (See Razing the land to feed massive timber hunger, World Wildlife Federation.)

According to the National Whistleblower Center (NWC), illegal logging dramatically increases carbon emissions, which exacerbates climate change and air quality issues, and threatens endangered species and distorts global markets. The NWC also cites examples of the illegal timber trade in Indonesia, Russia, Mozambique, Gabon, Madagascar, India, the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). (See Protect Forests from Industrial Logging, National Whistleblower Center.)

Read on for examples of fraud and other crimes by region.


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