2014 Fraud Awareness Week Highlights Impact of Fraud and Tips for Prevention

By Lowers & Associates,

fraud week supporter

This week is International Fraud Awareness Week, a global effort led by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) to minimize the impact of fraud by promoting anti-fraud awareness and education.

We are proud to be among almost 1,000 organizations supporting this effort through the publication and distribution of educational materials that can help managers identify fraud risks and develop mitigation programs. This week we will feature fraud prevention-related content on our blog and we have issued a special edition of The Risk Mitigator. We are also proud to announce the release of our visual guide, 10 Fraud Facts. The guide highlights 10 facts about fraud from the ACFE’s 2014 report and offer tips to help your organization develop an effective fraud prevention program. Get your copy here.

Awareness of the potential for organizational fraud is the first step toward prevention. Yet a surprising number of organizations have no systematic fraud detection and prevention policies in place, leaving them more vulnerable to this hidden crime than they need to be. … Continue reading

Fraud Can’t Happen Here! Really?

By Lowers & Associates,

If you are like many business owners and managers, you are certain there are no fraud problems in your organization. Are you really sure?

Every two years, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) publishes a new version of their “Report to the Nations” (here’s the 2014 version) on the incidence and costs of organizational fraud. In every report they find that about 5% of top line revenue is lost worldwide to thefts by employees, owners, or partners with access to an organization’s resources.

The aggregate monetary cost of these losses is staggering, and does not even estimate the on-going costs of damages to reputation. ALL types of organization are vulnerable, and ALL types of employees and owners perpetrate these thefts. The only distinctive pattern in the data year after year is that fraud is a ubiquitous problem.

And yet, we often find organizations that have no preventative measures in place against fraud, and take no effective actions to detect it. This complacency is a common human trait: if nothing has happened in the past, nothing is going to happen in the future. Predicting the future based on historic patterns is a powerful tool, and it is often accurate. … Continue reading

Who are the Fraudsters in Your Organization?

By Lowers & Associates,

We know the prevalence of occupational fraud is very high, costing organizations of all kinds an average of 5% from top line revenue every year. But what this means is that the importance of preventing these human risk frauds has a high payback, as well.

Owners and managers—employers generally—have a very strong incentive to discover every clue that exists within their own organizations to root out risky people, or at least to make it difficult for them to perpetrate frauds.

Occupational fraud is an intentional, hidden crime, sometimes not detected until years after it starts. Therefore, in order to know where to look within the organization for the potential perpetrators even before the frauds are discovered, it will help to know what characteristics fraudsters are likely to have. In other words, knowing what fraudsters are like can help improve the detection of hidden frauds, or to prevent them in the first place. … Continue reading

Latest Findings on Red Flag Employee Behaviors

By Lowers & Associates,

The 2014 edition of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) report on occupational fraud confirms and extends previous findings that fraud is a persistent threat across time and borders. Extrapolating the incidence of fraud from the 1,483 cases included in the study to the estimated world GDP, ACFE estimates that occupational fraud cost as much as $3.7 trillion in 2013.

The report classifies occupational fraud into three broad categories:

  • Corruption—such as bribery, conflicts of interest, and extortion
  • Asset misappropriation—such as theft of cash, fraudulent disbursements, and inventory manipulation
  • Financial statement fraud

Of these, asset misappropriation is the most common, but results in the smallest median loss of $130,000 per case. Financial statement fraud is relatively uncommon, but results in a median loss of over $1 million. … Continue reading

The Benefits of Outsourcing Internal Auditing

By Lowers & Associates,

As a result of the numerous corporate and accounting scandals, the financial crisis, and other similar events that have occurred in the first part of the 21st century, numerous regulatory and protection acts have been enacted to provide assurance to individuals, investors, and the boards and management of organizations regarding the financial and operational integrity of these companies.

Given the heightened awareness and requirements of the regulatory environment, many people hear the term ‘audit’ and immediately relate it to the ‘external audit’ teams of Certified Public Accountants tasked to review the accounting of organizations to assure the accuracy of the financial information.

An ‘internal audit’ can be critical to the successful operation and growth of any organization before the external audit team even begins to add their value. According to The Institute of Internal Auditors “internal auditing is an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organization’s operations. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes.” … Continue reading