Fraud affected half of travel, leisure and transportation businesses in the last 12 months, according to a new global study.

Internal financial fraud is one of the most widespread facing the sector, with more than one in five businesses (22%) falling victim to it in the past year.

Regulatory or compliance breach is also a problem, with 16% of companies reporting incidents of this type.

A smaller but still significant number (6%) of businesses said that they had suffered from corruption and bribery in the past 12 months.

More than half of companies in the sector (52%) said their exposure to fraud has increased in the past year, with IT complexity seen as the most important factor behind increased exposure to fraud, cited by 36% of firms affected.

More than half of the information attacks that took place in the past year targeted internal strategic plans or data (55%), the highest figure for any industry sector.

Where there has been a fraud and the perpetrator is known, travel and leisure companies are the most likely to report that an insider has been involved (88% of the time) and that senior management employees are involved (34%, nearly twice the survey average of 18%).

This is consistent with a marked rise in internal financial fraud in the sector, from 16% last year to 22% this year, according to a global fraud report by experts Kroll Advisory Solutions.

The company’s Eurasia chairman Tommy Helsby said: “One look at the global headlines in the past year, from LIBOR-fixing in London to accounting fraud in Tokyo, will tell you that fraud continues to be a pervasive issue, and for each story that enters the public consciousness there are many more that don’t.

“Increasingly, fraud exhibits industry-specific and regional characteristics, which require detailed knowledge of a market, sector, business process or culture to unearth, redress and prevent.

“Companies that get complacent about it do so at their own peril.”