Not Again! – Bookkeeper Fraud

Book Keeper FraudI just had another call from another business owner who has found that his bookkeeper had been stealing from his business.

The circumstances in almost every call we get are frighteningly simillar. The bookkeeper had been a trusted employee and had used internet banking to transfer money from the company bank account to her own accounts. The transactions were usually hidden in purchases or the directors loan account.

It surprises me that a business will require two signatures for the cheque account or keep tight reign on the cheque book but provide the bookkeeper with unrestricted access to internet banking.

There a number of other simillarities between these type of fraud cases:

  1. The fraud had been conducted for much longer than the owners initially thought. In almost all cases, the business owner said that it seems to only have occurred in the last few months, but our investigations usually show that the fraud had commenced much earlier ( 2-3 years). In the initial frauds, the amounts were usually much smaller and well hidden, whilst the latter frauds were larger and more obvious as the bookkeeper felt that were not going to get caught or was unable to hide the larger amounts effectively.
  2. The amount stolen were much larger than initially thought. In one instance, a fraud that they thought was $30,000 over three months, we found was $750,000 over 3 years and this was for a small business.

For a fraud to be commenced an employee will generally have to have the opportunity (access to internet banking, access to cash) and the knowledge that they can conceal the fraud (poor financial accounts, lack of management oversight, poor financial knowledge by management or poor internal controls.

We assist the business in both proving the loss incurred, providing expert evidence in civil proceedings to recover the stolen funds, providing expert evidence in criminal trials (including providing the brief to police) and changing the accounting and business systems to reduce the chance of it happening again.

If you think that your business is suffering from fraud, give Arnold Shields a call on 02 9411 5422 or email to find out how we can help.