Bank statements can be incredibly useful when searching for hidden income during a divorce financial analysis. Both deposits and expenditures should be evaluated, and the process is explained in this video.
Written by Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, CFF
Wisconsin Law Journal
How would you know if your company was being looted by a dishonest employee? Most companies miss all of the warning signs that could help stop a fraud early.
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners reports that the average fraud scheme within a company lasts 18 months. That’s one year-and-a-half that one or more employees are stealing from the company without being caught. In that period of time, the average internal fraud causes losses of $159,000. Imagine how much damage could be done to your company in that amount of time.
Written by Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, CFF
Wisconsin Law Journal
When you think of information in an internal fraud investigation, you most likely think of things like a company’s internal records. These include accounting documents, personnel files, payroll records, accounting system information, and internal memos. While these items are key parts of an internal investigation, they are not the only tools a fraud investigator may use.
Most people don’t think about all the other records available to assist in an investigation. There are many public and non-public records that can aid the investigator in determining who was involved, where the money went, and what the motive for the fraud may have been. These records are invaluable to the investigator, and often play a key role in determining the details of a fraud.
Many of the cases I work currently focus on the tracing of funds through multiple bank, brokerage, and credit card accounts. I am typically working with tens of thousands of transactions at a time, so the sheer volume of the data could be overwhelming.
I have put together a proprietary software system that enables me to capture manage, and analyze the data. The system eliminates the need for staff assistance (and the dangers that go along with having multiple people touch the database and possibly corrupt the data). How does the system work? Read on.
Getting the Data
The process of discovery can be long and agonizing for everyone. There is often a push and pull between the parties in the discovery process, as opposing counsel rarely wants to voluntarily give up damaging financial data. It often takes several rounds of requests to get the information we seek.
Tracy Coenen talks about the prevalence of fraud allegations related to construction projects and the work a forensic accountant can do in construction claims. She goes through the basics of the financial analysis performed on the numbers and documents related to the construction project.
Forensic accounting has been around for decades, but only in the last ten to fifteen years have people become aware of the profession on a wide scale. Many of the techniques used by forensic accountants to investigate fraud and analyze the numbers are the same today as they were decades ago.
Computers have made things easier, as we can track, sort, and manipulate data faster. While software solutions for analyzing data, managing documents, and following the money are being used in investigations, they’re not being used to their full potential. This is obviously a missed opportunity for clients.
Old Fashioned Investigations
The old way of investigating fraud – the one that requires manual data analysis – is tried and true. Examining source documents is critical to finding out what really happened with the money. There is no substitute for the judgment, skepticism, and investigative intuition of a seasoned forensic accountant.
One of the chief concerns in a divorce or child custody case is identifying the true income of one or both of the parties. It is not unusual for such a case to include allegations of hidden income or assets. It is common for a closely held business to suspiciously encounter declining sales and profits following the filing of a family law case.In each of these instances, properly determining the income of the party is critical to getting a fair and equitable settlement, maintenance award, or child support award. Until you have the correct numbers, the attorney may find it very difficult to decide what is fair or in the best interest of the client.
One common misconception among small business owners is that fraud prevention is expensive. And like anything else in this world, it can be expensive. A company that strives to eliminate virtually all opportunities for fraud by employees can spend a chunk of money doing so.
But it’s not always necessary to spend lots of money on fraud prevention. And it’s not always possible for a small business owner to spend a lot on fraud prevention. Let’s face it… budgets are tight and big new projects aren’t often possible.
Frauds committed by employees can have devastating effects on businesses. The company’s finances suffer, employee morale may drop, and the company’s reputation could be affected by negative publicity.
Following the investigation of an internal fraud, owners and managers of companies need to rethink how they do business. It is the perfect time to carefully analyze the operations and create procedures and an environment in which ethical behavior thrives.
A fraud by a trusted employee is often devastating to management, both financially and emotionally. A company can be thrust into turmoil because of a significant theft, and it’s important to approach the situation methodically in order to mend the damage and prevent future occurrences. Companies can recover from an internal fraud by focusing on three key areas, in addition to completing a thorough investigation of the fraud.
Tracy explains the purpose of a lifestyle analysis in a divorce case, and the process used to analyze the family’s finances. The lifestyle analysis may be used to determine how much money is required to continue living the lifestyle the parties had while married. It may also be used to find hidden income or hidden assets, and Tracy discusses how she may uncover these items.