As an investigative forensic accountant specialising in fraud I offer a wide range of different fraud related services to businesses and individuals in diverse locations. It occurs to me that there are two very closely linked subject areas of work within my business of providing asset tracing in cases where some form of asset recovery is being sought and providing fraud prevention advice to companies looking to protect themselves from the risk of fraud.
Why should I consider these to be linked? The reason is that the failure to properly consider a sensible fraud prevention strategy leads to frauds happening with the need for lengthy and complex investigations. It is by failing to heed the dangers of fraud that the fraud takes place!
The revenue that I would receive from providing fraud advice to even a larger organisation on how to establish appropriate fraud policies, defence plans and preventitive controls is modest when compared to a relatively minor fraud. In addition, the fraud would also require the services of legal advisors to deal with it through the courts or perhaps through employment tribunals and the like. It would also take up a lot of the organisations own resources and would likely be highly disruptive. This is even more likely to be the case if the law enforcement authorities become involved in a criminal investigation!
Please do not think I am complaining as I actively enjoy investigating fraud, but I feel that it is in an organisation’s best interests to spend its money on receiving the greatest value for money. By investing a little on installing a fraud policy and reviewing fraud prevention measures the company is reducing the risk of suffering a major fraud by a huge amount. Any fraud will have a serious financial impact and often can cause a company to fail. Many of my investigations are on behalf of the insolvency practitioner called in to invetsigate the workings of a failed business.
The old adage of “…it will never happen to me…” rings true. We are are guilty of it and unfortunately will continue to be so, not only in our business affairs but also in our day to day life. We do not excercise enough, eat the wrong foods (or too much of it) and drink too much alcohol. Then when we are ill or unhealthy in our old age we say ‘…if only…’
In the same way fraud is a sinister threat to everybody. It destroys businesses and individuals alike. The fraudsters are all around us, driving their expensive cars and enjoying a lavish lifestyle. We don’t seem to notice – but it is time we started treating fraud like the major crime that it is and fraud prevention, not fraud investigation, should be the major service for which I receive enquiries!
My ‘to do’ list for this week includes taking a good look at any missed real business opportunities that I have being a forensic accountant if I do not actively seek out businesses that are unprotected from fraud and try to help them. At present I do give this help, usually after a fraud has taken place and the need for proper contols are at the fron of a victim’s mind!