March is Fraud Prevention Month, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a great thing to spread awareness about.
I see fraud all the time. Here’s one of my more recent forays.
So Much Fraud. So Little Time.
In my experience, 75% of fraud is committed by people who have never been caught before. That means the person or people in your business who are likely to commit fraud are not going to come up when you do criminal background checks.
Oh, and don’t forget about family. Family members commit fraud all the time. When you employ family, resentment could lead to stealing, and there’s always a certain sense of entitlement that facilitates matters.
I’ve even seen a CFO who was stealing methodically, and when I looked back I saw that his father had been the previous CFO who was stealing methodically in the exact same way.
Most of the fraud I see is idiotic.
I’ve seen people with folders on their desktops that may as well have been labeled fraud. When I opened the folder there was a spreadsheet inside with every single perpetration.
I’ve seen a CEO who had the account statements from his bank in the Grand Cayman Islands sent right to the office.
I’ve seen a woman who everybody loved and who worked as the payroll processor at a company for 25 years check out of the hospital 24 hours after a heart attack only to process payroll and return to the hospital hours later. She never missed a payroll in 25 years. And as it turns out, neither did the three fake employees she had on the books whose social security cards and accounts she controlled.
And people love to spill the beans. I’ve had people shove USB keys filled with data and file folders and so much more under the door of my hotel room in the middle of the night.
How Do You Minimize and Catch Fraud
Be out of the ordinary.
Fraud happens when complacency abounds. People steal a little, maybe even by accident, and realize that no one was looking, noticed, said anything or seemed to care. So they took a little more. And then a little more. So mix things up.
As I’ve mentioned in another post, I once caught a multi-million dollar fraud by holding a BBQ at 1 a.m. for a 24 hour overnight crew. A guy came up and just told me about something that didn’t make a lot of sense to him. I only caught the fraud by doing something out of the ordinary. When’s your next late night BBQ scheduled for?
Always force your CFO to take an annual two week vacation in which he’s not allowed in the building and he’s cut off from business email. Sit at his desk and do his job, and you’ll be amazed at what you find.
Fraud also happens by working outside the known bounds of your auditors’ checks. If auditors only look at transactions above the set limit of $5000, then once every few months check everything below $5000 also – that’s where all of the fraudulent checks will be. You’ll discover that you’re still paying for leased equipment you’ve long since sold or that you’re paying rent on property you no longer own.
You’ll find all kinds of things. Just do what’s out of the ordinary.
Help prevent fraud in your company and raise awareness of fraud during Fraud Prevention Month and every month hereafter.
What kind of fraud have you found?
P.S. If the answer was none, you’re not looking hard enough.