Posts Tagged ‘internal controls’

Would You Know If Someone Was Stealing From Your Business?

Friday, May 20th, 2016
Employee Fraud- Ohio CPA Firm

According to the 2016 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud & Abuse by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the typical organization loses 5 percent of its annual revenue to fraud. What are you doing to prevent fraud from occurring in your organization?

A 20-year employee at a city school charged with managing adult education programs was known as a hard worker who had secured her colleagues’ respect. But when external auditors came into the district to review the school’s financial records, it didn’t take long to realize that something just wasn’t adding up. Questions began to circulate and people starting comparing notes. It wasn’t until her co-workers started questioning how she could afford the costly gifts during the holidays and lavish purchases made to redecorate her home that all the pieces began to fit together. After all, that type of money was certainly not in line with her position’s established pay scale.

Read Also: Are Your Employees Skimming From The Top?

Warning Signs

The funds this woman used to redecorate her home were not acquired honestly. They were obtained as part of an embezzlement scheme that lasted for at least two years. Because she attempted to cover her tracks by destroying the financial records, forensic accounting professionals were called in to reconstruct the activity using the school’s enrollment records.

The fraudster was thwarted in this instance … but this is certainly not an isolated incident. In fact, it happens more than you might think.

According to the 2016 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud & Abuse by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the typical organization loses 5 percent of its annual revenue to fraud. The group estimates that the potential financial loss to organizations worldwide due to fraud is at least $3.7 trillion dollars. The median loss in this particular study, which compiled data from 2,410 cases of occupational fraud in 114 different countries, was $150,000. Nearly one-quarter of all frauds in this worldwide study topped $1 million or more.

What Are You Doing To Prevent Fraud In Your Organization?

If you are looking to significantly decrease the fraud threat in your organization you must have a strategy in place to prevent and detect it. And if a fraudster is in your midst, implementation of anti-fraud controls are effective are an effective way to shut fraud down faster. The Report to the Nations states that the presence of anti-fraud controls correlated to fewer losses and quicker detection.

Which Control Is The Right Control?

According to the report, the top five anti-fraud controls utilized by organizations today are:

  1. External Audit of Financial Statements
  2. Code of Conduct
  3. Internal Audit Departments
  4. Management Certification of Financial Statements
  5. And External Audit Internal Control over Financial Reporting

But are they the most effective?

Over the course of this study, researchers found that the five most effective controls when it comes to preventing and stopping fraud are:

  1. Tips
  2. Internal Audits
  3. Management Review
  4. By Accident
  5. Account Reconciliation

A key opportunity to guard against fraudulent behavior is still being missed. For example, while tips were the most common detection method regardless of whether a hotline was in place, fraud schemes were detected by tip in 47.3 percent of cases at organizations that had fraud hotlines. In contrast, only 28.2 percent of cases were detected by tips at organizations without hotlines. It’s clear that businesses and organizations should invest in a fraud prevention strategy that encourages anonymous tips if they aren’t doing so already.

Is your business or organization at risk? Do you want to learn more about which controls are most effective at preventing and detecting fraud? To learn more on this topic, email Rea & Associates.

By Annie Yoder, CPA, CFE, CFF (New Philadelphia office)

Check out these articles for more fraud-prevention strategies:

Let’s Talk About The F-Word

Cost-Effective Ways To Deter Fraud

How Much Money Could You Be Losing From Fraud?

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Are Your Employees Skimming From The Top?

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Fraud Triangle- Ohio CPA Firm Dear Drebit: As a new business without a cash register, what is the best way (accounting method-wise or other) to protect cash receipts from sales against employee theft or dishonest activity? Thanks, “Ernest”

Dear Ernest: Great question! Segregation of duties is essential when it comes to protecting your business against fraud. Here are some tips to help you protect your business from employee theft or dishonest activity.

5 Ways To Prevent Fraud In Your Small Business

  • Your bank activity and all copies of your cancelled checks should be reviewed by someone other than the individual who collected the cash. Similarly, the person who collected the cash should not be the same person responsible for taking the deposit to the bank.
  • Inventory records should be reviewed by the business owner, who should then compare them with the company’s sales totals/collections. While your number probably won’t be exact, it will help you identify large variances. Start by reviewing how much inventory was sold and identify the sales price. Then review that total with the business’s sales totals.
  • Never use the cash in the register to pay vendors for business expenses. All payables should be processed in such a way to provide you with a paper trail. A check or card payment is ideal.
  • Lead by example. Your employees are watching your behavior, which means if they see you removing cash from the till, they will have an easier time rationalizing their behavior to do the same. It’s up to you to set a good tone at the top.
  • If the person responsible for collecting payment from your customers throughout the day is also responsible for preparing a “daily reconciliation” of monies, their work should be double-checked by another employee as well. Again, because it’s just that important, someone other than the employee who collected the money in the first place should be the one to take the funds to the bank. After the deposit has been made, the employee should return with the validated deposit slip to compare with the day’s sales activity.

While you can never reduce the risk of fraud from occurring to zero, any control you put in place – even the perception of oversight – will help deter fraud.

I recently spoke about this topic on our podcast, unsuitable on Rea Radio. If you get a chance, check out episode 3: trust is not an internal control for more insight, tips and general fraud prevention advice.

If you would like more information on internal controls, email Rea & Associates. You may also find the information provided in this video to be helpful.

By Annie Yoder, CPA, CFE, CFF (New Philadelphia office)

Learn more about the impact of occupational fraud, check out these articles:

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: 5 Internal Control Tips That Can Save Your Business From Fraud

Fraud Hotlines Deter Occupational Fraud

Cost-Effective Ways To Deter Fraud

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How to set up internal controls on limited resources

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Setting up internal controls in your small or midsized business is no easy task. It can be very time confusing, plus running the day-to-day operations always takes priority. I recently spoke with Smart Business to discuss what businesses and organizations with limited resources can do to implement internal controls.

If I handed you a briefcase of $100,000 and said, ‘Here hold this for me,’ would you be OK with that? … [What] if it was $500,000 or $1 million? That’s what you’re doing when you give full access to information and resources with no one monitoring it.”

To find out what your organization can do now and read the full article, visit Smart Business’s website or check out some of the articles below.

By Michaela McGinn, CPA (Dublin office)

Want to learn more about internal controls for your business? Check out these articles:

10 Ways To Implement Internal Controls With Limited Resources

What Are The Top 10 Signs Your Business’s Internal Controls Aren’t Strong?

Does Your Company Have Solid Internal Controls?

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Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: 5 Internal Control Tips That Can Save Your Business From Fraud

Monday, March 30th, 2015
Prevent Fraud With Internal Controls - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

When you implement internal control components into your management strategy, you not only deter fraudulent behavior, you help improve the overall quality of your financial statements, which could result in improved transparency, fewer external audit findings and even additional growth and sustainability. Start establishing internal controls today by incorporating these five components into your daily business or organizational activities.

Will the lack of internal control procedures result in the untimely demise of your business or organization? Studies show that if you don’t take action against fraudulent behavior today, tomorrow could be too late. The term “fraud” covers a lot of ground and includes actions that ultimately affect the accuracy of your financial statements. In fact according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), entities without internal control procedures are more likely to make errors on their financial statements and more likely to be victims of fraud, which is why it is so important for you to protect your business or organization with procedures that ensure accuracy and reliability of these records.

“The presence of anti-fraud controls is associated with reduced fraud losses and shorter fraud duration. Fraud schemes that occurred at victim organizations that had implemented any of several common anti-fraud controls were significantly less costly and were detected much more quickly than frauds at organizations lacking these controls” (ACFE, 2014).

Read: Fraud Hotlines Deter Occupational Fraud

Improve Accuracy, Eliminate Fraud

When you implement internal control components into your management strategy, you not only deter fraudulent behavior, you help improve the overall quality of your financial statements, which could result in improved transparency, fewer external audit findings and even additional growth and sustainability. Start establishing internal controls today by incorporating these five components into your daily business or organizational activities.

  1. Control environment – There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to setting the tone of your business or organization, all eyes are on you. Employees, volunteers, management and even the general public are more likely to “walk the walk” AND “talk the talk” if they see that you hold them and yourself to the same expectations. When leaders demonstrate a good ethical and moral framework, appear to be approachable about all issues and a commitment to excellence, nearly everybody takes notice and adjusts their behavior accordingly. It also helps to develop a rapport with your management team to encourage engagement throughout all levels of leadership.
  1. Risk assessment – Whether formal or informal, a risk assessment is critical to the process of identifying areas in which errors, misstatements or potential fraud is most likely to occur. By conducting a thorough risk assessment, you can identify which control activities to implement.
  1. Control activities – The best way to safeguard your business or organization is to segregate duties. This means that you should have different employees managing different areas of the company’s accounting responsibilities. When you put one person in charge of your accounting process you are freely giving them the opportunity to alter documents or mismanage inventory – and it’s a clear indication that you have weak internal controls. Dividing the work among your other employees is critical to the checks and balances of your company or organization. It’s also a good idea to develop procedures for recording, posting and filing documentation. Here are a few activities to get you started:
    1. Reconcile bank statements.
    2. Require documentation with expense reports.
    3. Match invoices with the goods and services you received prior to paying off your accounts payable balances.
    4. Make sure the person who has access to your business assets is different from the person responsible for the accounting of those assets, which will establish a form of checks and balances.
  1. Information and communication – Providing your employees with information about the internal control process and the resources available to them is a critical component to your success and the overall success of the internal control activities. In fact, simply knowing there are certain controls in place to promote accuracy and prevent fraud is enough to stop problems before they even start.
  1. Monitoring activities – Your job doesn’t end at the implementation of your internal control procedures; in fact, it’s just beginning. For your internal controls to work (and work well) you must establish your monitoring activities – and monitor frequently. Establishing internal controls is great, but they will have no effect if you neglect to monitor them. Furthermore, your internal controls should grow with your business or organization to ensure their long-term effectiveness.

Risk management and internal controls are necessary for the long-term success of every business and organization and a financial statement audit is a great way to provide you with insight into the internal controls of your organization or business. This kind of review structure can potentially reveal problems you didn’t even know were there – including fraud. But what if you are not planning on conducting an audit on your financial statements this year? Another option could be to work with a CPA who can help you document an understanding of the design and effectiveness of your internal control policies as a way to reassess your current strategies and identify areas for improvement. Email Rea & Associates to find out what options are available and how internal controls can put a stop to fraud in the workplace.

By Christopher A. Roush, CPA (Millersburg office)

 

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What Are The Top 10 Signs Your Business’s Internal Controls Aren’t Strong?

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Internal controls are procedures that companies develop to safeguard their assets and to produce accurate, reliable financial statements. When a company doesn’t have strong internal control procedures, fraud can occur much easier. Other issues that can arise include inaccurate financial statements, the inability to find certain documents such as invoices or purchase orders, or a higher than usual number of customer complaints.  (more…)

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Does Your Company Have Solid Internal Controls?

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Let’s admit it… we all want to be able to trust other people. And we generally do…until we’re proven wrong. Owners of small, family-owned businesses are no different, and must put their trust in someone to handle their revenue, disbursements, payroll and inventory, among other financial functions.  (more…)

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How Do You Stop School Credit Card Fraud?

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Is your school struggling with declining funding? If so, you’re probably worried about the top line. You’re closely watching what’s coming in. You’re exploring ways to generate revenue. But, you need to be equally worried about what’s going out.

Credit cards are one of the most common ways for funds to escape your district. This type of fraud is particularly destructive because it tends to be long-term, continuous and difficult to spot. Employee fraud is like a hole in a bucket – no matter how much water you add, slowly but surely, the water level keeps going down. However, if you understand where fraud may be taking place, you can take steps to deter it. (more…)

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Fraud Prevention Through Risk Assessment

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

All too often, school clients come to us asking about fraud detection. But, needing fraud detection implies that there’s fraud to detect. Clients should really be asking us about fraud prevention. A proactive approach to fraud prevention, rather than a reactive approach to fraud, helps schools to stop fraud in its tracks.

One of the most important parts of fraud prevention is risk assessment. Determining your organization’s high risk areas will allow you to focus your efforts on the areas where they’ll be most effective – giving you the best bang for your buck. (more…)

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Where does Fraud Happen?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

When we speak to clients about fraud prevention, they’re often overwhelmed. They often think they can’t possibly be watching every part of their operations all the time. Fraud doesn’t occur equally in all parts of an organization’s operation and is often committed in the same ways: false invoicing, fake vendors and inappropriate employee expense reimbursements. By watching for easy-to-spot signs in each of these areas, organizations can go a long way towards preventing fraud. (more…)

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How do you identify potential fraudsters?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

As auditors, we often hear about fraud after the fact. We’re asked to investigate what went wrong and how it happened. Organizations should not wait until after the fact to identify fraud. Through risk assessment and management processes, organizations can identify potential fraud and act to prevent it. (more…)

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