Internal fraud can happen to anyone; no business is immune to it. Companies in the US lose over $500 million annually due to internal fraud. Here are some signs of internal fraud and responses.
Any unexplained and unjustified changes in bookkeeping records are a definite warning sign of internal fraud. If there is a decrease in revenue despite continuous payments from the business bank account or if there are various pending payments for long periods without any justified reason, then there is most likely something suspicious happening. Also, if there is an unexplained increase in expenses and a sudden decrease in profits, it means that money is draining out of the company to a place where it is not supposed to go.
The Over-Efficient Workaholics
An accountant who is a fraudster will go to any extent to hide his or her crime. They often want to work off-hours when everyone has gone home. Another sign is that they refuse to go on leave or use any vacation time. They often try to take work home. All of these activities are red flags and need to be addressed. Keep an eye on such workaholics. Unfortunately, there may be an underlying reason for working such odd and extreme hours.
Fraudsters try to hide their working documents and processes from managers and others. If any manager or other employee tries to get involved in their work, they become offended. They give unsatisfactory explanations and answers on any fault.
They are overprotective. They work alone and don’t like any involvement or interference. Records maintained by them become inaccessible and untouchable to others. When asked questions, they become strangely defensive. They know that the records will expose their crime, and their answers will be suspicious and unrealistic.
If an accountant is facing any financial stress in their life, there have been cases when they plan internal fraud to fulfill their needs. Any unexpected financial loss such as divorce, mortgage, or debt acts as the trigger for internal fraud. Know your employee by taking time for small discussions with them about their current situation. By doing this, you can detect any sudden change in their behavior and activities.
How to Respond to Internal Fraud?
A business owner should know how to respond to internal fraud. Whether the one committing the fraud should go through an internal investigation or be handed over to law enforcement should be a decision that you are prepared to make.
A forensic accountant should be consulted for an expert opinion. They will investigate and interpret your financial information. They will analyze the amount of loss due to fraud, collect all shreds of evidence, preserve them, and prepare a summary of the lawsuit. They will suggest a policy to prevent fraud in the future.
Termination is the minimum consequence of internal fraud cases. Along with termination, other penalties enforced by a lawsuit are necessary to make it an example that fraud will not be tolerated in your company.
How to Investigate
An internal investigation should be exhibited in such a way that your employees, partners, public, and donors trust you and your investigation. No question on the credibility of your investigation should be raised. Hire experienced fraud investigators to ensure that your investigations are handled according to law and be sure that there is no violation of legalities.
A prompt decision needs to be made by the business owner, internal audit, board of directors, and forensic accountant alone or in combination. The decision-making authorities should address the size of the fraud, the target of the investigation, how to recover the loss, and other risk factors.
Interview all of the parties, i.e., vendors, customers, and employees. Review all relevant records. Preserve the evidence as early as possible because documentary evidence is key for investigations. Forensic accountants and IT personnel should be hired to do investigations in the best way to ensure that you handle them thoroughly.
Internal fraud should be investigated in detail to produce evidence for legal prosecution.About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual bookkeeping, providing service to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud-hosted desktop where their entire team and tax accountant may access the QuickBooks™️ file, critical financial documents, and back-office tools in an efficient and secure environment. Complete Controller’s team of certified US-based accounting professionals provide bookkeeping, record storage, performance reporting, and controller services including training, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, process and controls advisement, and bill-pay. With flat-rate service plans, Complete Controller is the most cost-effective expert accounting solution for business, family-office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.