ACFE Public Relations Specialist
The word “fraudster” conjures up images of a suspicious looking stranger in a trench coat, or perhaps Wall Street bankers lighting cigars with flaming $100 bills. However, what a real fraudster looks like could be the person who attended your most recent birthday party. Fraud is often perpetrated by the people we least expect — from the trusted friend to the most veteran employee of an organization. One of the biggest downfalls for employers is the blind belief that fraud could never happen to them.
Roy Faust was one such owner when he hired a friend to do bookkeeping for his custom kitchen and bath company without performing a background check first. “Since we already knew each other and I trusted her, I thought it would be a great fit for our business to bring her on as my bookkeeper,” he told the ACFE in a recent video, Fraud: Yes It Can Happen to Your Business. Even after Faust caught the employee stealing after only eight months of employment, he said, “she still had me kinda convinced throughout the process that she wasn’t really capable of doing this.”
Small businesses are not the only organizations that are susceptible to fraud. Rita Crundwell served as the Comptroller and Treasurer for Dixon, Illinois, for 29 years before it was discovered that she had embezzled $53.7 million from the city beginning seven years into her tenure.
Jeremy Clopton, CFE, CPA, ACDA, explains that although employers are aware of the risk, they maintain a willful bias when it comes to fraud. “They think that they have wonderful employees that would never steal from them and that fraud would not happen to them. Yes, they realize that it exists, yes they realize it’s going to happen to somebody, but they always think that it’s not going to be them,” he said.
One of the best ways employers can protect themselves against fraud is by making themselves more aware about how and why fraud occurs and how it can be prevented. International Fraud Awareness Week is November 15-21 and serves as a time for organizations and individuals alike to focus on fraud and the potentially devastating impact it can have. The ACFE has shared a number of free resources on Fraudweek.com including videos, infographics, press releases and more.
Organizations that have signed up for Fraud Week are raising awareness in a variety of ways, including planning seminars, movie screenings and cocktail receptions. As fraud fighters, Fraud Week is a perfect time to let those around you know that yes, fraud can happen to them.
Have you signed up as an Official Supporter of Fraud Week?