Gore woman fitted profile of a fraudster
A middle-aged Gore woman who was sentenced for a massive fraud this week fitted the profile of a typical fraudster, a survey says.
The case has highlighted the risks associated with fraud in organisations.
Janice Raewyn Keenan, 54, was sentenced to three years and 10 months' jail in the Gore District Court on Thursday after defrauding Hokonui Rural Transport of $457,639.95.
BDO Invercargill chartered accountants managing partner Tim Ward said the typical fraudster was a middle-aged woman in a position of trust, according to a trans-Tasman fraud survey conducted by BDO.
The survey had shown a large number of people defrauded organisations to fund lifestyle choices and a limited amount was for significant issues driven by stress, he said.
Mr Ward said fraud within businesses and not-for-profit organisations was an "absolute breach of trust", could be financially devastating and could affect how organisations functioned.
A workplace could feel violated when a fraud occurred, he said.
Once a person got on the "treadmill" of committing a fraud and got away with it once, they commonly continued until they got caught - and most would get caught, he said.
It generally took about 14 months for a fraud to be detected.
"People will get caught, but it's what damage they may do until they are caught."
A fraud could occur in any workplace but steps could be taken to minimise the risk of a fraud occurring, he said.
Some of those steps included segregating duties, establishing a fraud policy and putting controls around electronic payments.
Not-for-profit organisations are being asked to participate in the
BDO biennial survey of fraud to support ongoing efforts to prevent fraud.
The 2014 survey is open for organisations to complete online by visiting www.bdo.co.nz. The survey closes on October 31 and results will be released in February next year. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ten steps to minimise fraud within a business or not-for-profit organisation:
1. Segregate duties - get different people involved in different aspects of administration.
2. Establish a fraud policy - it can be simple and use words that make it clear that frauds or misappropriation will not be tolerated.
3. Familiarise yourself with who your staff members are and have an idea of their interests and activities.
4. Ensure there are dual authorisations required on electronic payments.
5. Put basic security in place over business assets.
6. Understand the financial information that is presented and if you don't understand it, ask.
7. Share real-life experiences that minimise the opportunity for fraud to occur.
8. Management should ask questions if things do not look right. Do not assume you know the answer.
9. Ensure annual leave and holidays are taken because in some cases people stay to cover their trails. They do not want other people doing their work.
10. Seek professional assistance if you have concerns on the weaknesses of an organisation. Appoint an auditor to test an organisation's systems and procedures.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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