Fraud hits the leading economies hard. The Association of Certified fozia shan Fraud Examiners estimate that businesses in the US lose on average over 6% of their turnover each year to fraud. This is more than many companies make in profit and could be better used invested in hospitals and schools.
Fraud seems to be a problem that many do not give much importance to until it impacts them. Many people do not take care of themselves, eating and smoking until obesity or cancer impair their lives. The fact that prevention is better than a cure is just as true for fraud as it is for diseases. Given that unlike some aspects of health most fraud is completely preventable at very little cost to an organisation, this is surprising.
By typing ‘how to prevent fraud’ into Google you will find contacts for many expert fraud advisors selling fraud prevention packages. In some, if not most of these cases, the advice will have substantial value to anybody wishing to purchase it. In all likelihood the advice will consist of the following:
1. A examination of the business will be undertaken by the advisors that will include staff interviews and documenting business processes – this is very similar to the work carried out during the planning stages of a statutory audit that most businesses (all large companies) will have by law every year.
2. This review will normally end up with a report about any weaknesses to fraud that might be present. These will be discussed with the management of the business and this will give the opportunity to fix the weak points within the business.
3. The specialist fraud advisor will suggest a ‘fraud policy’ is written and installed by the business. This is a document that sets out the organisation’s policy that it will not tolerate fraud within the organisation and document some of the steps that it has taken to ensure that fraud is considered to be unacceptable by all its staff.
4. The advisors may also offer training to the organisation’s staff in how to recognise fraud and how to take simple measures that are additional to the firm’s own policies that will further help prevent it.
5. The astute fraud advisor will ensure that his client also has a ‘response plan’ for fraud – setting out ways to deal with fraud if it does happen. High on the list of responses will be contacting the advisors for further advice in dealing with the fraud.
The advice being given by the advisor is essential for the business, if it has not considered its vulnerability to fraud in the past. However, installing such systems alone will not fully protect the organisation. The reason for this is that the fraudster will be spending more time trying to find the chink in the anti-fraud armor – and many frauds continue to be discovered in businesses that have taken on board significant anti-fraud advice in the past.
Additionally what is needed is a perception that the fraudster might be just about to exploit another opportunity. The business itself needs to be also on the lookout for the same thing. One of the biggest mistakes is to spend vast sums on fraud prevention advice and then to consider the business to be protected. It is complacency that often allows fraud to happen again and again, even after formal anti-fraud advice has been taken.
Initial fraud advice need not be complicated or expensive, so long as an organisation takes on board an ‘anti fraud mind set’ and continues to be aware of the threat of fraud on an ongoing basis. Fraud prevention measure must be seen to be reviewed and updated regularly to be most effective, rather than just a one off visit by an expert advisor.