By Ashley Mazerolle, Marketing –
In the complex world of business, staying one step ahead of potential fraud is a crucial task for company management. The age-old adage, “It takes a thief to catch a thief,” holds true, urging business owners to adopt a proactive mindset. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, organizations lacking robust internal controls can lose up to 5 percent of their revenue annually to fraud. These losses often go unrecovered, concealed within financial statements.
To safeguard your business, it’s essential to think like a potential thief. Conduct an internal assessment, asking the uncomfortable question, “How and where could I steal without much risk?” This exercise enables a critical examination of vulnerabilities, prompting the establishment of practices to fortify the business against fraudulent activities.
Understanding the “fraud triangle” is a key step in this process. This triangle comprises three sides—Opportunity, Motivation, and Rationalization—that may enable someone to commit fraud.
Opportunity for Fraud:
Identifying opportunities for fraud can be challenging. Lack of written policies, unclear separation of duties, absence of mandatory vacations, and infrequent financial statement reviews create openings for illicit activities. Company upheavals, such as crises or rapid turnover, may introduce fictitious suppliers, padded expense sheets, and missing inventory.
Motivation to commit fraud extends beyond financial difficulties. Individuals facing addiction or marital troubles may also succumb. Rigorous applicant screening, including background and credit checks, is crucial in identifying potential motivators.
Rationalization, the justification to steal, resides in the mind of the thief and employee perceptions about the company. Addressing issues like underpayment or lack of appreciation is paramount in minimizing the perceived justification for fraud.
Recognizing red flags is crucial for early detection. Altered documents, checks written to cash, inventory discrepancies, and unreconciled bank accounts are warning signs. Observing employees living beyond their means or developing unusually close ties with suppliers demands attention.
Preventing fraud is more effective than rooting it out. Regularly assess and fortify internal controls, stay vigilant for signs of fraudulent behavior, and consider professional fraud deterrence studies. Embracing innovative technologies, like EyeDetect™, which analyzes eye movement for deception detection, can add an extra layer of defense against the insidious nature of fraud.
In conclusion, by adopting a proactive and vigilant approach, businesses can safeguard their bottom line and foster a culture of integrity and trust within their organizations.