As I have stated before, business owners who are victimized by employee fraud almost always have one trait in common: they believe that “it could NEVER happen to me!” Unfortunately, as many business owners have learned the hard way, it is the individuals in your organization that are most trusted that have the ability to defraud you.
By way of illustrating this point, I’d like to share with you a recent story—about an employee who works for, of all things, a fraud detection company. Tampa Bay Online reports:
A 29-year-old Tampa man employed by a company that specializes in serving court papers and helping companies prevent fraud is accused of selling names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth to an undercover deputy.
Joseph Burden, of 10915 Burden Court, No. 44, was arrested Thursday evening. Hillsborough County deputies met with Burden at the intersection of Woodland Corporate Boulevard and W. Waters Avenue, after learning that he had identity information for sale, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
The deputy bought three pages of information, containing 33 names.
Burden was arrested at the site of the meeting. Deputies then found 18 more pages of identity information from 221 people in his bag.
Burden is employed by Provest, located at 4520 Seedling Circle, Tampa. According to its website, Provest specializes in process serving, locating missing parties, loss mitigation and fraud detection.
Burden is charged with fraudulent use of personal information and scheme to modify intellectual property.
If an employee of a fraud detection company can commit fraudulent acts of this magnitude, it can happen anywhere and at any time.
Now, I’m not trying to make you paranoid—this is simply the reality. I once had a client who was defrauded out of more than a million dollars over 25 years. The kicker is that the employee responsible was a longtime personal friend—and even attended the same church and the same Bible study as my client.
There is good news, though. As the business owner, you can virtually eliminate the possibility of fraud being committed against you simply by implementing proper controls. In addition, common sense steps, such as requiring that the employee who prints a check is NOT the one to sign it, can dramatically reduce your vulnerability. If you would like to find out more about the systems and best practices that can be applied in order to minimize the chances of fraud occurring, give us a call today!
You have enough on your plate already—the last thing you want to do is spend time worrying that your employees may be stealing from you. But the reality is that, if you are not taking the proper steps to protect yourselves, you are vulnerable. If you’d like to ensure that your business is protected from fraud and employee theft, get in touch with me today!