According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), fraud is the “knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment”.
While there are many types of fraud, this blog deals specifically with accounting fraud perpetrated by employees.
Small businesses are hit almost twice as hard by fraud than large enterprises.
Unfortunately, small businesses are hit almost twice as hard by fraud than large enterprises. ACFE’s 2018 report found that businesses with less than a hundred employees lose approximately $200,000 to fraud each year, while larger companies lose about $104,000.
There are many reasons why small businesses have it harder when dealing with accounting fraud.
Many small businesses operate based on trust, which allows fraudsters to work undetected. In addition to this, employees usually have a multitude of tasks to perform, and business owners are stretched too thin to oversee everything.
Also, small businesses tend to work according to less formal rules, and employees are often not trained to detect fraud.
Because of all these factors, it usually falls to accountants to look for red flags and alert their clients to possible cases of fraud.
Asset misuse and financial statement fraud are the most common types of fraud your small business clients have to face. Out of those three, asset misuse is the largest contributor to all fraud cases (89%), though coincidentally, it’s the least costly.
Asset misuse includes theft, like stealing cash, equipment or filing false expenses. In comparison, financial statement fraud is relatively rare (10%), but is eight times as costly as asset misuse.
Warn your small business clients to watch out for red flags like:
The easiest way to deal with accounting fraud is to nip it in the bud. Here are a few essential tips that can help your clients maintain a fraud-free environment.
Your client should have a clear anti-fraud policy in place. Educating employees to be alert to red flags and reporting any suspected cases of fraud are very important.
Regular but unscheduled audits help keep employees on their toes and discourages them from even the tiniest instance of fraud, like “borrowing” a piece of equipment.
Even if your client’s business is very small, entrusting one employee to handle all financial tasks is a mistake and may lead to fraud. Separate accounting and cash handling functions allow for effective peer-monitoring. In case of a very small business, one of these functions can be handled by the business owner.
Similarly, access to financial data should be limited to a handful of employees.
Business owners should check their bank accounts regularly to detect irregular and suspicious transactions.
Your clients should use transparent payment processes. Obscure and unsafe processes allow potential fraudsters to skim off funds from various transactions. Don’t give fraud a chance: advise them to use Veem.
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