Bosses stealing from own company, says fraud expert

A Blackburn specialist in business fraud accountancy is seeing fraud happening at every level of business, including junior staff, directors and owners – and companies should be preparing for it.

Jeremy Rowe, director at Pierce Forensic, points to statistics showing that employee fraud is on the increase.

The figures from fraud prevention service CIFAS, show a 43 per cent increase in recorded incidents of staff fraud during 2012 compared to 2011.

Jeremy, who recently joined the national Fraud Advisory Panel, warns that in his experience, it is not just junior employees committing such fraud, with senior management also giving in to temptation in the tough economic climate.

He points to a number of high profile cases of solicitors ‘borrowing’ from a client account, or financial advisers stealing investment funds.

Jeremy said: “The economy has had a profound impact on fraud in the workplace.

“In the days of economic growth business owners could rely on profits and easy finance to fund nice houses and a luxury lifestyle but with the economy taking a turn for the worse, we’re seeing a rise in people stealing from their employers and businesses to make ends meet.

“It seems to be very difficult for business owners to rein in their personal expenditure when the profits fall.

“Thankfully reports of large scale fraud are relatively rare. However, where the bosses commit the fraud it tends to be for a significant amount which can have a devastating impact on the business.

“The right culture in an organisation together with some common sense and controls in place can prevent such problems.

“For instance, those handling money or recording transactions, should not be left completely to their own devices without any anyone else showing an interest no matter how senior they are.

“Owners should be aware of what their partners or fellow directors are doing and what pressures they may be under both inside and outside of work.”