Signs Your Bookkeeper Is Stealing and How to Prevent Fraud

No matter how much trust your employees may have developed while working with you, the fact is that trusted employees steal more from organizations. According to a study, businesses lose about 9% of their annual revenue to employee theft or fraud. Of these, 85% are trusted employees. Furthermore, severe fraud cases led to 33% of organizations around the globe to file for bankruptcy. These whopping figures reveal that employee theft and fraud are costly to businesses, which may trigger lawsuits and legal proceedings against the employees for the breach of agreement and trust.

A Trusted and Reliable Bookkeeper Is the Need of the Business

People who play with numbers have the technical knowledge, skills, and ability to manipulate financial records and business books with ease. Employee theft detection is quite an intimidating task, especially when your bookkeeper or accountant is the main culprit. As a bookkeeper or an accountant knows the actual financial status of the company, the business can always be at risk of losing sensitive financial data that can lead to a complete disaster. Bookkeeping records, maintained by trusted bookkeepers, can help you with better financial decision-making. Therefore, to prevent fraud of any scale, you must always stay alert and vigilant to warning signs of changing employee behavior.

Change in Employee Habits and Behavior

Employees are the real asset to any company. They can change the entire fate of a business. By remaining honest with their jobs and the company, evolving employee attitude and behavior and the desire to have more salaries and bonuses—if denied, lead to serious crimes. However, it doesn’t mean every employee would be involved in malicious, unlawful, and unethical activities. Only a tiny percentage of employees do such corrupt things.

You need to create a mechanism by which you could know who is stealing from the firm and how to prevent fraud. A sudden change in habits tells almost everything about an employee, like working late hours, coming to the office on weekends, and anything other than average. Hence, professionally, these things must be taken care of by establishing and developing close ties with your employees, especially your bookkeeper. You must keep a regular check on your financial books to have more control over your company.

Other Warning Signs 

Sudden or Unexpected Debts

Personal financial equation plays a pivotal role in defining the moral of an accountant. Unexpected debts can arise at any moment, perhaps due to divorce, gambling, or drinking, which may be the reason for their deceitful behavior. Bookkeeper or an accountant’s financial strains and anxieties may be a potential risk to your business.

Spending More Than Earning

If your accountant is spending more than he’s earning from you, that could be a warning for your organization. It is perhaps one of the most common ways to know and investigate your accountant’s fraudulent behavior. Excessive spending on cars, homes, shopping, and vacation tours by your accountant can raise red flags. Therefore, you must keep a closer watch on your business books and employees to prevent fraud and theft.

What to do to prevent these Fraudulent Activities?

As your business continues to grow, the chances of fraud increases. There is a high possibility that your accountant may try to steal from you and take advantage of the situation. It doesn’t matter whether your business is of small-scale or large—maintaining in-house or back-office control is fundamentally important for businesses. Employee fraud and theft affect not only the finances and image of the company but also the morale. Therefore, if an organization wants to know whether its bookkeeper is stealing, and hopes to prevent fraud, then it

  • Must create a mechanism to maintain internal control within the organization for fraud prevention. All business transactions must be accurately documented for future references to prevent fraud and theft.
  • Should not rely on one single accountant to manage all the financial affairs of the business.
  • Should also integrate some accounting system to process essential procedures of accounting and preventing frauds.
  • May also outsource their financial operations to third-party service providers to prevent fraud.
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