Warning signs of fraud

Sep 29 2008 by Derek Torres Print This Article

Of all the things I've had to worry about in my professional life, corporate thievery hasn't been one of them. Now, your first thought might be of companies like Enron or virtually anyone on Wall Street, but I'm looking on a much, much smaller scale.

But it all adds up. According to this recent article in the Sun Journal, American businesses lose $40 billion per year due to theft and fraud in the workplace. In one local chamber of commerce in Maine, as many as 10% of members have been directly affected by office theft in recent times.

There are, however, some signs that should raise red flags for employers. For example, if an employee starts to receive phone calls at work from a creditor looking to collect upon a debt, this could indicate some sort of financial troubles that may impact an employee's work.

Of course, not everyone who is contacted by a collection agency is likely to steal, but it does show a stressful financial situation that could prompt a person to do something that they would not normally do. Another indicator mentioned in the article is an instance where an employee may drag their feet when financial documents are requested.

Depending on where you live, some areas may allow employers to seek out a financial/credit history of people who have direct access to company finances or sensitive information. While I am an advocate of privacy issues, I do feel that it is appropriate for those who have free access to large amount of money to show that they are worthy of such a responsibility.

For American employees, corporate theft is certainly not worth the punishment. In one example, an employee who stole $260,000 was sentenced to nine years in prison. It's up to companies to not only make sure they know the people that work for them, but it's also their duty to keep an eye on their finances to make sure problems like this are nipped in the bud before they spiral out of control.

The only remaining question is who keeps an eye on the CEO?