The Fight Against Fraud: Arm Yourself With Prevention

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Fraud is big business. Companies are at the greatest risk of fraud from their employees, since the employees have easy access to information and assets. Some experts estimate that companies lose 5% of their revenues to internal fraud. At a company with annual sales of $100 million, that means that $5 million is walking out the door each year.

Executives tell themselves that their company isn’t the norm. They do better than average. They certainly haven’t been a victim of internal fraud to the tune of 5% of revenues. The sad truth is that they don’t know exactly how much has been stolen from their companies because they aren’t aware of all the fraudulent activities committed. Five percent is an average level of fraud for a company, and it would be wise for executives to take this number seriously. Continue reading

The Fraud Blame Game: Accusing the Auditors

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magnifyprintWhen a company discovers an internal fraud, it’s not uncommon for owners and management to look for a party to blame. After all, someone should have known that a fraud was in-progress, right? Often, the blame is cast in the direction of the auditors.

The auditors are an easy target. Not only do they usually have professional liability insurance policies to fall back on, the auditors initially seem like the logical culprit.

Management often believes that the auditors worked very closely with the financial information; therefore, they should have discovered the fraud. Continue reading

Bribery and Corruption: Difficult Frauds to Find

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When fraud happens within an organization’s accounting system, there is often a paper (or digital) trail left behind. It’s unavoidable, as there is a record of something related to the fraud, whether it is a legitimate invoice that was later adjusted, an account balance that was changed, or a fake employee who was added to the payroll system.

Frauds involving bribery and corruption are different. They happen almost completely outside the accounting system, so they often don’t leave a paper trail. Management instead must rely on tips or other vague clues to the existence of such a fraud scheme.

Bribery and corruption typically arise out of relationships between people, so in order to detect them, management must often be aware of the personal relationships between employees and outside parties. That is clearly a difficult task, and often nearly impossible. Continue reading

The Eyes Have It: Seeing the Signs of Fraud

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Would you recognize the clues that your client has been ripped off by one of its employees? Or would management conduct business as usual, blindly trusting their employees? Companies make the mistake of not actively searching for fraud. They tend to trust their employees and trust the procedures in place to safeguard company assets.

It may be good business to trust employees and empower them to make real contributions to the growth of the company. However, it is not wise to turn a blind eye to signs that a trusted employee may be stealing. Continue reading

Article at CFO.com: Are Your Employees Committing Fraud?

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There’s a good chance fraud may be occurring under your nose. How to get better at preventing it from happening on your watch.

Tracy L. Coenen – CFO Magazine

Internal fraud is a huge risk to companies. Experts estimate that on average it costs companies 3% to 5% of revenue each year. Especially when profit margins are thin, internal fraud can literally put some companies out of business.

But executives are prone to underestimating the amount of fraud that exists within their company. They want to believe that their internal controls are better, their employees are more honest, and their ability to stop fraud is more effective than that of executives at other companies. Continue reading

Identifying Red Flags of Fraud

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Would you recognize the clues that your client has been ripped off by one of its employees? Or would management conduct business as usual, blindly trusting their employees?

Companies make the mistake of not actively searching for fraud. They tend to trust their employees and trust the procedures in place to safeguard company assets.

It may be good business to trust employees and empower them to make real contributions to the growth of the company. However, it is not wise to turn a blind eye to signs that a trusted employee may be stealing. Continue reading

Common Sense in Internal Investigations

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Last week Mike Volkov had a great post on his blog about using common sense in your internal investigations. Mike is an FCPA expert, and the guy you want to go to if your company is the target of a government investigation or inquiry.

What makes Mike the better choice than the other attorneys who sell their services for internal investigations and compliance issues (and there are a lot of them!) is his level of experience. He was a federal prosecutor for a long time, and has deep experience with government prosecutions. You don’t want someone who just knows how to push paper. You need someone who knows the government process and how parts of the investigation are going to happen, what chance there may be for settlement, and how the government investigators are going to react to certain pieces of information (beyond the laws, and into the reality). Continue reading

Article at CFO.com: Taking on Fraud Probes Without Interfering

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 How CFOs can assist independent investigators and not mess up the integrity of the results.

By Tracy Coenen, Contributing Editor at CFO.com

With the government’s increased focus on ferreting out corporate fraud, companies face a higher risk of gigantic defense costs, negative media reports, and substantial civil or criminal penalties. Cases involving bribery and corruption under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for example, are costing companies their reputations and their profits.

It takes only one credible whistleblower with access to enough documentation to make a compelling case to a government agency to get the ball rolling. The saving grace, however, can be an aggressive compliance program, complete with thorough internal investigations of tips and red flags, plus swift and certain remediation. Continue reading

How to Stop Employees From Stealing

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It might be hard to believe, but each and every day companies are losing money because they not only give employees opportunities to steal, they encourage it.

How? By not providing adequate oversight. A clerk, for example, sees that an error in an account wasn’t caught by anyone. A purchasing manager notices that no one is watching over his vendor relationships, and won’t know it if he establishes a fake account. Employees are not stupid. They know when they are being monitored and when their work is being checked. They know when they are working in an environment ripe for fraud. Continue reading

Steal and Conceal: MATC Procurement Director Fraud

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Today the Journal Sentinel ran a story about the fraud perpetrated on Milwaukee Area Technical College (and taxpayers) by Kristin Semits, the procurement director. Seimits is accused of stealing more than $259,000j over a 7 year period using her P-card (purchasing card – like a company credit card).

The report produced by Titus, the company that investigated the fraud, can be seen here. A graph on page 2 shows how the theft started out small (a few thousand dollars each year) and built up to $86,000 in 2011 alone. MATC’s budget is $260 million, so it’s easy to see how a theft of $50,000 or $80,000 in one year might have flown under the radar. Continue reading