Immunising businesses against employee fraud

Filed under: Business,Latest News |
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By Alison Lungu

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ (ACFE) 2018 Global Study on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, revealed that 267 cases of work-related fraud in Sub-Saharan Africa caused an average loss of USD 90,000 and lasted an average of 12 months before they were detected.  This is because many businesses do not have proper internal controls in place.

Alison Lungu, Country Manager at Business Partners International says that it was also reported that the most common way that employees steal money from businesses is through asset misappropriation, followed by corruption and financial statement fraud. “The reason that many of these acts succeed, is because business owners either believe that in-depth fraud prevention is too costly, or because business owners and management teams are not adequately informed about how to mitigate these risks.”

To assist business owners, Lungu lists four measures that all business owners should implement in their companies to make them fraud resistant:

Background checks are crucial

There are numerous cases of individuals who are let go from their previous positions for committing fraud, and continue stealing from their new employers. As such, conducting thorough background checks on all new employees is one of the most important steps for any business owner to mitigate fraud. Yet, in an attempt to save time or money, a surprising number of businesses still cut corners when it comes to conducting due diligence on new employees.

Dual controls and internal audits

Dual authorisation procedures need to be put in place where employees are in charge of receiving or making payments on behalf of the company. This means that at least two members of a company’s management team need to sign-off and verify incoming and outgoing cash flow. Always try to conduct annual or half-yearly internal audits of your company’s finances with a reputable third party.

Clear messaging that is backed up with actions

SME owners must send out a clear company-wide message that acts of fraud will be dealt with through disciplinary procedures, as well as legal action. Many fraudsters who are caught, continue to steal at their next jobs because their previous company chose not to take legal steps.

Making it clear that any and all criminal activity will be dealt with to the full extent of the law, is not only an important deterrent, but prevents fraudsters from doing the same damage to other businesses.

Reading the warning signs

Habitually being at work extremely early or late without apparent reason, reluctance to take leave, and seemingly living beyond financial means are by no means incriminating behaviours in themselves, but may be warning signs.

Furthermore, many employees who commit fraud have reasons that compel them. Excessive debt, gambling or drug addictions can quickly lead to stealing from one’s employer. Business owners who are able to support employees, by connecting them with the help they need in such circumstances, often remove one more layer of risk to their own business in the process.

Fraud can affect any business in many ways, and does not only cost the business financially, but also erodes trust with existing clients and poisons credibility with future customers. While implementing fraud prevention measures may seem costly, it is a small price to pay for a business to protect itself and its customers from fraud.

Alison Lungu is Country Manager at Business Partners International

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31