How Fraud Can Creep Into the Tiniest of Fractures During Change and Transition

SPECIAL TO THE WEB

Comcast and Time Warner Cable. AT&T and DirecTV. Facebook and WhatsApp. In 2014, mergers and acquisitions were particularly prevalent, and these three deals made notable headlines. And for most corporations, organizational transformation enables adaptation to an ever-changing global business environment. However, change can also expose companies to significant financial, occupational and compliance fraud risks.

In the newest article on Fraud-Magazine.com, Chris Dogas, CFE, CPA, CRMA, explores the internal control structure of large corporations during a transition and how fraud can creep into even the tiniest of fractures. Using real-world case studies and the Fraud Triangle, Dogas provides valuable insight into how executives and employees find opportunities to commit fraud during times of change. He also outlines key steps that senior management and corporate boards can take to control risk.

Here are some points of action that management and boards in changing organizations should heed:

  1. Maintain effective corporate governance and periodically communicate key governance activities to employees to remind them that despite the transition, the corporation continues to implement internal controls and it requires compliance with them. Governance activities could include audit committee meetings to review internal controls, including interactions with external and internal auditors.
  2. Maintain strong company-level controls. This includes strong Tone at the Top, hiring practices (such as background checks), training and retaining clear policies and procedures.
  3. Maintain and promote strong anti-fraud controls, including internal control risk assessments, fraud risk assessments and an incident hotline. The ACFE's 2014 Report to the Nations states that tips continue to be the primary method of fraud detection in 42 percent of incidents. When organizations identify violations, they should communicate to employees the nature of the incidents and the related disciplinary decisions and actions.
  4. Perform monitoring activities, including internal control reviews, internal audits and segregation of duties reviews.
  5. Most importantly, actively involve internal control and anti-fraud professionals during the integration process (i.e. planning, strategy integration meetings and discussions). These experts can perform risk assessments and identify leading indicators of weakening controls. They also can provide advice on remediation. Their involvement sends messages to the rest of the management team, and the whole organization overall, that the company continues to adhere to its internal control structure.

You can read more from Dogas in the full article on Fraud-Magazine.com.

On Point: Refine your skills as a presenter and communicator

FROM THE RESOURCE GUIDE

Paul Homoly, PSP

I bet we would agree that it’s never been more difficult to hold people’s attention than it is now. Text messages, email, voice mail, social media — they all compete for listeners’ attention.

It’s been my experience that experts in fields with complex issues such as finance, law, health care and fraud investigation say they’re frustrated when the people they’re trying to inform and influence don’t listen, don’t “get it,” or resist the need to take action on their expert advice and opinions.

Many fraud examiners believe the completeness and accuracy of their fraud examination findings are the keys to their influence. Unfortunately, a blind spot exists for many fraud examiners: being interesting and influential is the experience of the listener. No matter how complete your fraud investigation findings are, if they aren’t communicated in a way that’s interesting and influential to the listener, your findings are not interesting or influential.

Interesting and Influential Fraud Examination Reports

What constitutes an interesting and influential fraud report? Let’s assume your technical findings are accurate and complete. When you present your findings to your listeners, the next step is to support your findings with a process called The Leader’s Pyramid. The Leader’s Pyramid is the process of making content-intensive presentations both interesting and influential.

Build interest and influence from the base of the pyramid and work your way up. Begin by establishing a connection. Connection is about relationship. If you want people to follow you, they need to know who they’re following. Give your listeners a personal experience. You can do this by sustaining one-on-one eye contact (talk to one person at a time; don’t scan the audience while you speak). Disclose a bit of your role as a spouse or parent. Tell a story from your childhood. Make disclosures brief (a minute or less) and link them metaphorically to your topic. You’ll be amazed at how influential a short interval of disclosure is.

Next is movement. Movement is about confidence. When you stand to deliver your fraud investigation findings, keep movement to a minimum. Don’t pace back and forth. Pacing reveals a lack of confidence and nerves.

Plus, it interferes with your train of thought. Instead, use simple body rotations with one- to two-step movements, at most. Movement will do more to hurt you than help you — the less movement, the better.

Finally, there’s dynamics. Dynamics is about energy. Dynamics is the sound of your voice — tone, volume, pitch and rhythm. Dynamics is the best speaking tool you have to earn and hold listeners’ attention. Use voice dynamics immediately before and during critical content points of your presentation to distinguish the information in the minds of your listeners. Pique listener interest immediately before you make key points. This way they’re listening when you’re at your best.

Using personal connection, appropriate movement, and a variety of voice dynamics to earn listener interest and exert your influence won’t interfere with your credibility.

No one has ever lost credibility by being interesting.

You can hear Paul talk about these skills and more in his upcoming seminar, Presentation Skills for Fraud Examiners, July 15 in Nashville, Tennessee, or November 4 in Washington, D.C. View a full list of our upcoming events and products in the latest ACFE Resource Guide

Entrepreneur Raises Fraud Awareness in India

MEMBER INTERVIEW

Apurva Joshi, CFE, is the founder and CEO of Fraudexpress, based in Solapur, India. Joshi created Fraudexpress as a digital media company to help increase fraud awareness, and provide news, views, training and other services for anti-fraud professionals. For her work as a fraud fighter and entrepreneur, she was recently featured in a book by bestselling author Rashmi Bansal.

What inspired you to start Fraudexpress?
I founded Fraudexpress at a time when India was witnessing some of the biggest scams in its history. These scams were quantified to the tune of 15-20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There was a big movement in India against corruption at different levels. Politicians were fighting in the Parliament, people were agitated and the media was covering their efforts. Everyone wanted to protect public money. But none of the anti-corruption crusaders were talking about strengthening our youth in India.

Fraudexpress was started with the objective of equipping Indian students with anti-fraud tools and training. Initially we created campaigns to create awareness about insurance frauds, banking frauds and others on social media; then we published newsletters and books. Today there are 11 titles published by Fraudexpress that address frauds in India. 

You were featured in the book Arise, Awake: The Inspiring Stories of Young Entrepreneurs Who Graduated from College Into a Business of Their Own by renowned author Rashmi Bansal. How did Ms. Bansal come to find you and include you in her book?
Ms. Bansal and I are connected through social media platforms. When she proposed to write her next book on the theme of young entrepreneurs, I gave her a brief of my work through email. Out of thousands of replies she chose to write about my journey as a forensic accountant and a female entrepreneur. 

You recently mentioned that fraud is still a taboo subject. How do books like Arise, Awake help provide more awareness of what anti-fraud professionals are doing to prevent and detect fraud?
Ms. Bansal explains business in very simple words. Fraud is a taboo subject, very few like to talk about it – at least in India. Youths shy away from this domain. But when an author like Ms. Bansal, who is popular among young readers, writes about anti-fraud efforts, it becomes an endorsement of our work. Ms. Bansal’s books sell millions of copies, so when a story about anti-fraud efforts is explained to millions, to youths and in layman’s language, it encourages students to take up fraud fighting as a career option.

During your career, you have also worked as a research analyst. How did your research skills serve you in the anti-fraud profession?
Our research is always aimed at quantification. Also, I have always supported numerous research projects, including studies on insurance fraud and corruption. In India, our research papers are considered benchmarks for academics and are often quoted.

What advice do you have for other fraud examiners who would follow in your footsteps?
I would always recommend earning a global certification like the CFE, apart from local accreditations (like CFAP or CBFA). I also recommend investing in technological solutions that enhance their efforts and provide added insight.

Read Joshi's full interview on ACFE.com.