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How Entrepreneurs Can Fortify Their Startups Against Fraud

Businesses that neglect workplace fraud detection are leaving themselves open to catastrophic losses



employee fraud

Fraud in the workplace is a problem of gigantic proportions. Everything from a little light skimming of the cash register to fraud at a corporate level represents extreme risks that organizations need to guard against.

While each industry has unique risks that it must mitigate against, there are plenty of common threats that a robust and structured anti-fraud policy can help prevent.

Understanding these risks and how to protect your business against them is a critical step in mitigating fraudulent employee risks.

Workplace Fraud: Understanding the Risks

Let’s be clear, understanding the size of the problem will not make pleasant reading. However, it is essential to read because knowing the size and scope of the problem is a vital first step to mitigating the risk.

The challenges that employee fraud raises are often in line with e-commerce fraud trends. But there are plenty of areas where they differ and detection methods and how businesses defend against it differ accordingly.

But how big is the problem? Well, huge if the latest Association of Certified Fraud Examiners report into occupational fraud is to be believed. To illustrate the size of the problem we only need to list a few of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Duration and loss: An average fraud case will go undetected for 12 months and cause a median loss of $117,000.
  • Revenue loss: The report estimates that 5% of all revenue is lost to occupational fraud.
  • Fraud types: Asset misappropriation (theft in common parlance) accounts for 86% of all employee fraud. Other high-rankers include corruption and financial statement fraud.
  • Department: Four departments (accounting, upper management/executive, sales, and operations) accounted for half of all employee fraud.

The report does make a grim reading. But there are plenty of positives to take from it. The most notable is the improvement in these statistics among organizations with strong anti-fraud procedures in place.

Strategies to Mitigate Fraudulent Employee Risks

It is obviously necessary to stop fraud that can disrupt the customer experience. However, the problem of employee fraud should not be overlooked at its expense. The potential scale of workplace fraud means robust measures are needed to protect an organization from “insider” fraud.

Some of the most successful measures for workplace fraud prevention are detailed below.

1. Implementing a Strong Ethical Culture

This is more important than it may appear at first glance. But a strong ethical culture that encourages employees to voice their concerns is an incredibly potent anti-fraud measure.

The importance of this is emphasized by a single statistic – 42% of workplace frauds are detected by tip-offs. This is three times as many cases as the next most common method.

Workplace culture should promote honesty, integrity, and transparency. It should also make employees feel that their concerns are listened to and taken seriously.

2. Smart Security Technology

While cybersecurity is absolutely critical, physical building security systems and measures are an essential component in protecting against fraud in the workplace. Theft, or “asset misappropriation”, is the number one threat that workplace fraud poses. Physical security measures such as the examples listed below can substantially lower the risk of theft:

  • Smart security cameras: A modern no business video surveillance system that utilizes the latest business camera technologies can act as a deterrent as well as catch perpetrators red-handed. The latest generation includes features such as high-resolution imaging, night vision, cloud-based remote systems, and the integration of AI.
  • Smart access control systems: The latest generation of smart access control and fob entry systems can easily be integrated with companion technologies like business surveillance systems and alarm systems.

Physical security is an essential part of an integrated security policy, it can radically reduce workplace theft and other forms of employee fraud.

3. Regular Audits and Surprise Checks

Again, these can act both as a deterrent and an effective method of detecting fraud. Surprise audits and checks deter fraud by serving as a reminder that regular monitoring for irregularities is undertaken.

It also ensures transparency and accountability making it more difficult for fraud to go unnoticed. This is important as the average duration of fraud is a year – and a lot of damage can be done in 12 months.

A proactive policy of regular audits supported by surprise checks can significantly reduce the opportunity, and the willingness, to perpetrate fraud in the workplace.

4. Employee Education and Awareness Programs

Finally, employee education and training can play a crucial role. With 42% of all workplace fraud uncovered by tip-offs, an educated workforce that understands the risks and the warning flags of fraudulent behavior can be an added line of defense.

It also helps to promote a workplace culture that is open, transparent, and more resistant to employee fraud.

An Inside Job: Mitigating Employee Fraud

Businesses that neglect workplace fraud detection are leaving themselves open to massive, potentially catastrophic, losses. However, being forearmed is forewarned, and much can be done to mitigate the risks.

A combination of smart technology in the form of business surveillance systems, an ethical culture that promotes openness, and robust auditing procedures can greatly reduce a business’s exposure to workplace fraud.

With 5% of all annual revenue lost to employee fraud, investing in robust internal fraud controls is a smart investment.

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