Catching out sticky-fingered employees

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Rising levels of employee fraud and theft have led to the launch of a nationwide anonymous tipline for employees to “dob in” colleagues who are stealing from their employer.

The company responsible, Thompson and Toresen Investigations Limited, said a recent KPMG survey showed employers believed only one third of frauds were being detected, and it was possible the problem could be worth more than NZ$1bn a year.

Investigator Danny Toresen told media that ethical violations like fraud cost jobs and profits, which were at a premium in the current business climate.

“If someone can help save a business money, it’s good for the employees, shareholders, and executives alike. Don’t we want the people who work with us to be honest?” he said.

Callers to the 0800RIPOFF line could earn a reward of up to $1,000 – but only if an alleged offender is arrested and charged, he added.

Toresen’s tipline could well prove to be a popular success in the current climate.

According to the highlights of the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Economic Crime Survey, 49.5% of Kiwi businesses had fallen victim to at least one instance of economic crime in the last year (compared to 42% in 2009), placing New Zealand fourth out of 78 participating countries in terms of reported fraud.

In response to those figures, law firm Kensington Swan has released some advice for employers concerned about workers with sticky fingers.

The firm, which recommended particular vigilance with employees in positions of responsibility or who exercise control over employer funds and payment, said employers need to watch out for the following tactics:

 

  • The creation of cheque request vouchers where a payment goes straight to an employee’s bank account;
  • Abuse of access to computer systems, like the payroll, by manipulating wage payments; and
  • One-off payments to a personal bank account using codes like ‘salary’, ‘bonus’ and ‘wages’ so they do not seem out of the ordinary.

Kensington Swan also suggested that employers take the following steps to better protect their business:

 

  • Implement business control mechanisms and conduct regular audits;
  • Introduce a comprehensive fraud risk management programme with systems for suspicious reporting;
  • Take time to manage employee roles and duties with regular checks like change in personnel or the use of temps;
  • Ensure employees take regular leave breaks of sufficient periods; and
  • Institute a whistle blowing system and/or the use of external law enforcement to carry out necessary checks and investigations.

 

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  • Bob on 27/06/2012 4:51:51 p.m.

    Highly likely. However, in my experience the biggest theft issues I see are from futher up the food-chain at the mid and senior manager level. Given senior managers are perpetrating it, they are also complicit and often actively turning a blind-eye to the crimes further down the ladder. Real integrity issues within an organisation are largely driven (or not as the case may be) from the top. At least that is my experience in the government sector...

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