Eliminating the Opportunity for Workplace Fraud

The level of enforcement tied to workplace fraud continues to increase- especially during economic downturns. Workplace fraud prevention begins on the inside of an organization. The opportunity for fraud to occur is one of the largest risks a company must work to eliminate. There are a number of anti-fraud techniques and systems that are easy to implement within any organization. When fraud grows out of control within an organization, reputations and public trust are destroyed. To reduce the opportunity for fraud to occur, accounting and money handling responsibilities must be divided. Monitoring and enforcement of anti-fraud programs is necessary in order for the program to be effective and for employees to take it seriously. When employees know they are being watched, their work is being reviewed on a consistent basis and punishments are administered to those who violate anti-fraud policies, there’s less room for fraud to go undetected.

Fighting Fraud

An effective system of internal checks and balances greatly reduces and may even eliminate all opportunity for workplace fraud to occur. Here are 4 tips to help reduce the opportunity for fraud in the workplace:

1. Dividing Responsibility

Create a small team to handle the money handling and accounting responsibilities.  This makes it easier to identify any misallocated funds or errors that could lead to the discovery of a fraud scheme. Dividing responsibilities decreases the opportunity for fraud, as different employees are responsible for separate tasks, making it difficult to explain missing funds or expense forms. Make it known that all financial reports and corporate bank accounts are reviewed item by item- any expenses or charges out of the ordinary will be questioned and investigated. If employees are aware that bank statements and other documents are never reviewed, the opportunity to commit fraud is wide open.

2. Monitoring

Monitoring the anti-fraud program is one of the key success factors in reducing the opportunity for workplace fraud. Implementing anti-fraud systems to detect and deter fraud isn’t enough. Monitoring and assessing identified fraud risks must become an ongoing processes in order for employees to understand the company’s commitment to fighting fraud.  The article “,” published by Deloitte Canada addresses the importance of monitoring anti-fraud programs:

“A final step for management and audit committees is the monitoring of the quality and effectiveness of an entity’s antifraud programs and controls. Monitoring can be done in two ways: through ongoing activities or separate evaluations. Separate evaluations can be performed by internal audit or other interested parties, such as business process owners. Monitoring activities can include timely reconciliations, confirmation of information by external parties, and periodic confirmations from personnel that they understand and comply with the company’s code of conduct.”

3. Anonymous Reporting System

A reporting system must be established in order to allow those who have observed fraud to report it. Reporting systems help reduce the opportunity for , as employees are less likely to commit fraudulent acts, knowing that their fellow employees are watching and are equipped with the proper resources for calling them out on their actions. Many companies receive tips related to workplace fraud through a whistleblower hotline or internal HR teams. Implement a system that provides the opportunity for anonymous reporting, as some individuals will be more apt to bring information forward if they don’t have to expose their identity. Opt for a case management software solution that can be easily integrated to work with existing hotline or reporting systems and platforms, allowing for simplified, multi-channel case entry.  A system that supports multi-channel case entry is important, as tips and reports of observed misconduct can be made via an Internet web form, company intranet and telephone hotline.

4. Effective Case Management

Effective case management reduces the opportunity for fraud within the workplace by providing managers with the ability to launch investigations into fraud-related incidents as soon as a new case is entered. i-Sight for Fraud Investigations uses automatic alerts to notify managers when a new case is entered. Reducing the time it takes to respond to cases, as well as conducting timely investigations, helps end fraudulent acts before they compromise the entire company.

i-Sight dashboards provide managers with the tools to identify common allegations or investigation types, analyze cases by geographic location or other relevant variable and spot patterns and emerging trends. Dashboards communicate complex information quickly. They translate corporate data into rich, graphical presentations using gauges, maps, charts, and other graphics to show multiple results together. Dynamic dashboards also let investigation managers drill-through to other data sources and reports for more detail about what the dashboard is communicating. This is useful for monitoring and tracking fraud related tips and investigations, as the ability to understand the frequency and location of fraudulent events within an organization allows managers to revisit these areas and make amendments to the anti-fraud program.

i-Sight is a case management software platform designed to simplify your process and provide outstanding reports. It’s primarily configured to manage customer complaints and corrective actions, or employee relations, HR & ethics investigations. It’s also used for a variety of other customized case management solutions. We blog at i-Sight.com, providing advice and tips to HR managers and investigators in regards to managing internal investigations.

Protecting Businesses From Fraud ' The Easy Way

The incidence of fraud seems to be on the rise, particularly in most of the leading economies. The US and the UK seem to be the hardest hit, possibly due to being the leading financial centres in the world. Estimates of the cost of fraud are always on the low side as nobody truly knows the scale of this ‘hidden’ crime.

Fraud seems to be a problem that many do not give much importance to until it impacts them. Many people do not take care of themselves, eating and smoking until obesity or cancer impair their lives. The fact that prevention is better than a cure is just as true for fraud as it is for diseases. Given that unlike some aspects of health most fraud is completely preventable at very little cost to an organisation, this is surprising.

By typing ‘how to prevent fraud’ into Google you will find contacts for many expert fraud advisors selling fraud prevention packages. In some, if not most of these cases, the advice will have substantial value to anybody wishing to purchase it. In all likelihood the advice will consist of the following:

1. A examination of the business will be undertaken by the advisors that will include staff interviews and documenting business processes – the work undertaken during the annual statutory audit will be very similar.

2. This review will normally end up with a report about any weaknesses to fraud that might be present. These will be discussed with the management of the business and this will give the opportunity to fix the weak points within the business.

3. The specialist fraud advisor will suggest a ‘fraud policy’ is written and installed by the business. This is a document that sets out the organisation’s policy that it will not tolerate fraud within the organisation and document some of the steps that it has taken to ensure that fraud is considered to be unacceptable by all its staff.

4. The advisors may also offer training to the organisation’s staff in how to recognise fraud and how to take simple measures that are additional to the firm’s own policies that will further help prevent it.

5. Any commercially minded advisor will also ensure that the client business installs a ‘fraud response plan’ that sets out ways that fraud, if it is discovered, is dealt with. High on the list of responses will be contacting the advisors for further advice in dealing with the fraud.

The fraud expert’s advice is certainly an important benefit for the business, especially if it has not thought about the problem of fraud before. However, installing such systems alone will not fully protect the organisation. The reason for this is that the fraudster will be spending more time trying to find the chink in the anti-fraud armor – and many frauds continue to be discovered in businesses that have taken on board significant anti-fraud advice in the past.

Additionally what is needed is a perception that the fraudster might be just about to exploit another opportunity. The business itself needs to be also on the lookout for the same thing. One of the biggest mistakes is to spend vast sums on fraud prevention advice and then to consider the business to be protected. It is complacency that often allows fraud to happen again and again, even after formal anti-fraud advice has been taken.

Initial fraud advice need not be complicated or expensive, so long as an organisation takes on board an ‘anti fraud mind set’ and continues to be aware of the threat of fraud on an ongoing basis. Being seen to be reviewing fraud controls and talking to the staff about fraud risk on a regular basis is likely to be more effective in most companies than a one off visit by a fraud expert.

Mark Jenner is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, a Certified Fraud Examiner and has a Masters Degree in Fraud Management. He advises companies on fraud risk and how best to protect themselves from fraud.

Why It May Be Difficult To Track Down Lost Beneficiaries

Many of the most exciting stories involve a search for a missing heir. Sometimes there is a search for the truth about a fake missing heir. One of Huckleberry Finn’s adventures involved him with two villains posing as the long lost uncles so they could rob three orphan girls of their father’s estate. Poor little Cedric Errol became Little Lord Fauntleroy as a result of his grandfather’s search for his estranged son’s child.

In life as in literature, a search for a missing heir is undertaken for a variety of reasons. It might be because the missing person has been named in a will and is entitled to a sum of money or property. It might be because if the missing person is deceased, his share will pass to another member of the family.

There are stories about a testator who wants to meet with a missing or estranged relative before deciding whether or not to include that individual in the will. Stories like these often include a plot to substitute a fake relative who sometimes turns out to be more worthy than the original.

Generally, missing heirs are the business of the law firm handling the affairs of the deceased. Their job might include locating all of the people mentioned in the will. If the deceased died without a will, the job would become a matter of discovering all family members who might be entitled to a share in the estate as well as weeding out imposters.

Locating and establishing the existence of legatees can be a complex task. Daughters present a particular problem because they usually change their name when they marry. Some of them marry several times in different states or countries and take a different name each time. Their children might have the names of their respective fathers and their daughters might have the names of their husbands.

There might be a son who never quite got around to getting married but fathered one or more children. The situation is even more complex if he was living in a foreign country at the time. Or he might have been in a relationship with a woman who later returned to her country of origin.

An understanding of genealogy can help to identify more distant relatives. For example the father of the deceased may have had a half brother. Maybe that brother’s parents were divorced and he was taken by his mother to another country. Perhaps she married another man who adopted the boy and gave him his family name. Later the half brother might have had descendants who might have a legitimate claim to the estate in question.

What if all but one of the descendants of the half brother died and the one became a criminal and lived under several aliases? Perhaps he had a religious experience and saw the error of his ways and moved to India and became a missionary. He might have died but not until after he adopted an abandoned child who is now the missing-next-of kin. It would take some pretty serious searching to find all that out.

Social Security records, cemetery records, military records and vital statistics records can all help in a search for a missing heir. Churches can provide baptismal records, membership rolls and an accounting of a member’s tithes and offerings. People who have experience with genealogical search say that, next to a social security numbers, nothing is more valuable than an old address and a nosy neighbor.

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Thanks for reading my article – I hope you enjoyed it and learned something from it.

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