One aspect of fraud examinations that is constantly changing is the use of technology for fraud prevention and detection, with an emphasis on detection. From rules-based systems, fraud analytics and artificial intelligence-based programs, examiners look to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their work through the use of technology. However, it is critical to the management of fraud risk that examiners focus more of their efforts on the use of data and technology on the mitigation of fraud risk.Read More
A recent article in The Atlantic discussed how a scientific researcher is leveraging new software to address the issue of fraud in scientific studies. Though typically I focus more on the application of analytics for occupational fraud, this article showcases how unstructured data (data that doesn’t fit nicely into a row/column or tabular format) can be used to identify red flags of fraud.Read More
As the two most recent Reports to the Nations have indicated, data analytics is one of the most effective anti-fraud controls an organization can use. It’s worth noting, however, that data analytics are also incredibly effective at fraud detection as well. Organizations in all industries, including government, have been implementing analytics for years. According to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) 2017 Year in Review, they are no different.Read More
In today’s world, it’s not uncommon to see headlines about a new instance of fraud many times a week. Whether it’s a new phishing scam targeting seniors or the arrest of a low-level employee embezzling small amounts from a local government office, most fraud-related issues are interesting to the public regardless of their profession. Since anti-fraud professionals are on the front line of fraud prevention and investigation, it’s also predictable that family and friends may turn to you for clarification of these fraud-related stories.Read More
Mustafa Yusuf-Adebola, CFE, ACCA
In reviewing organizations’ whistleblowing platforms, I have noticed two features that consistently affect a program’s success. One, reporters have no trust in the system due to fear of victimization or intimidation when/if the veil of anonymity is removed. And, two, reporters are not encouraged to speak out because there are no (appearances of) far-reaching actions after investigations are conducted. Consequently, there is less motivation to report wrongdoing.
Trust is the bedrock of any whistleblowing platform; as such, potential reporters are comforted by the assurance that cases will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. For instance, an employee of an organization once revealed to me that he would blow the whistle only after he had submitted his resignation letter because the subjects involved in the alleged fraud were top executives. According to him, this was his own way of "rocking the ship" before leaving.
To encourage reporting through an effective whistleblowing policy, a few challenges I have noted are:
- Low awareness: Organizations need to appreciate the importance of publicizing their whistleblowing policies and the reporting channels to everyone (including third parties).
- Poor infrastructure: Create and enable appropriate channels (emails, phone lines, suggestion boxes or internet links) to cater for the preference of the reporter. For example, some organizations have dead web portal links and nonfunctioning phone lines used for whistleblowing. One company published a reporting phone number in its annual report that was entirely different from the website’s listing. These are easy ways to show potential reporters that you want to hear from them.
- No follow-up messages: A program should include assignments of case numbers for each report to give the reporter assurances of activities taken after they have made a claim. In certain instances, a case could be investigated for a long period of time and the reporter should be routinely informed of updates.
- Ignoring data analytics: Data analytics is a very useful tool in proactively responding to fraud. Collating and recording all relevant data for established and unestablished cases on the whistleblowing platform can help anti-fraud professionals proactively address fraud indicators, assist in updating in-house training courses, and help in increasing employees' fraud awareness and reviewing of company policies.
Ultimately, the support and actions of top management will go a long way to provide a good framework for preventing and detecting fraud through whistleblowing programs.