Performing analytical review on the financial statements of a company is an important part in the fraud detection process. It can help detect manipulation of the numbers, as we are looking at account balances and their relationships to one another. How have account balances changed from period to period? How have the relationships between accounts changed from period to period?
Some of the things that may be evaluated include:
Current period figures versus prior period numbers
Financial statement line items compared to one another
Actual financial results compared to budgeted or projected figures prepared before that accounting period
Company data compared to operational facts
Company data compared to industry data
Numeric data compared to the notes to the financial statements
In later video posts, we’ll cover some of the common ratios that can be used to analyze the balance sheet and income statement to evaluate them for the potential that fraud may be occurring.
Financial statement fraud impacts any person or organization that has a financial interest in the success or failure of a company. A manipulation of the company’s reported earnings or assets can affect a bank that extends credit to the company, a shareholder who invests money in the company, and those organizations that enter into contracts or agreements with the company.
The manipulation of financial statements also affects employees. It has the power to put employees out of work once the fraud is exposed or collapses. It also has the power to enrich employees – mostly those involved in the fraud, but potentially those who are not. Good financial results (actual or fabricated) can be linked to promotions, raises, enhanced benefit packages, bonuses, and the value of stock option awards.Continue reading
Financial statement fraud happens is one of the most costly types of fraud. It is a significant problem because people inside and outside the company rely on the information provided in the financial statements. They assess the financial results and make predictions and decisions about the future of the company based on those results.
Upper management or company owners are the ones who are usually responsible for financial statement fraud. Executives are entrusted with entire companies. They have access to nearly all data and employees, and they can exploit this access to commit and conceal fraud.
The power the executive has by virtue of her or his position in the company is closely linked with the high cost of financial statement fraud. Power and access within a company make it possible for larger frauds to be committed and covered up. Continue reading
Anyone who is being honest will tell you that financial statement audits don’t find fraud. On the rare occasion they do, but by and large audits are not designed to detect fraud and the auditors don’t have enough fraud detection training.
One solution to this problem is the engagement of forensic accountants to look for fraud. But companies don’t seem to interested in going the extra step.
Colonial Bank went under thanks to a fraud by Taylor Bean & Whittaker Mortgage Corp., its largest mortgage banking customer. Executives at Taylor Bean & Whitaker cooked up a scheme whereby they sold $400 million in worthless mortgages to Colonial Bank. The mortgages were worthless because they either did not exist, or had already been sold to other investors.Continue reading
What is a company to do when it wants to hide losses? Manipulation of the financial statements is the obvious first choice. It’s not hard. Sure companies have “internal controls,” which are supposed to include policies and procedures which ensure that financial information is properly recorded. But companies of all sizes have problems with their internal controls, such that it’s not terribly difficult to issue fraudulent financial statements.
VIDEO: World of forensic accounting unveils how companies are cheated out of millions
The story of the alleged $31 million fraud at Koss Corp by the company’s former VP of Finance, Sue Sachdeva, hasn’t gotten much air time over the last month or so. Aside from the usual class action lawsuits when there is a fraud discovered at a public company, the only bits of news that are remotely notable at Koss are the continued declaration of dividends and the filing of a 10-Q without any financial statements included.
Koss is a public company, but the stock is thinly traded. The Koss family apparently owns about 70% of outstanding shares of stock. The declaration of a dividend, therefore, is nothing more than the Koss family publicly announcing that they are going to pay themselves.Continue reading
In contrast, the internal audit function is engaged in ongoing audits of the financial reporting process and other numbers-related projects. The scope of internal audit work varies greatly from company to company.Continue reading
Beazer Homes USA has completed an internal investigation into accounting problems and will restate its financials from 1999 through 2007.
The results of the investigation: Employees in the mortgage unit violated HUD rules on downpayment assistance since at least 2000. Beazer might have to reimburse some losses on federally insured loans because of this. The liability is estimated at $8 million to $15 million, the amount for which the company thinks the government will settle.Continue reading