Business is not for the faint-hearted. When you think you have it all figured out, you discover that an employee has been stealing from you. Forget about workers who pick petty office supplies or sneak a few dollars into their pockets. Professional theft, or what is known as white collar crime, can get downright dirty and ugly.
In June of 2018, Block Communications, Inc. hired Barry Webne, a former professional thief turned fraud consultant, to help them fight company fraud. Little did they know Barry would rob them of over $1 million, which he stole by writing checks to himself stamped using a co-worker’s signature.
It’s experiences like these that open your eyes to how rogue some employees can be. What can you do to prevent white collar crimes? Here are six tips:
Know the Different Types of White Collar Crimes
You have to know the intricacies of a crime to prevent it. There are many ways in which employees can steal from you. Look out for acts such as:
Fraud – Some employers disguise fraudulent activities to pass for regular business practices with the aim of stealing. Such activities include tax, invoice, and payroll fraud.
Bribery – Every well-meaning employee should report a case of fraud. Unfortunately, fraudsters can compromise other employees by giving them hush money, causing white crimes to continue undetected.
Embezzlement – Here, an employer converts business or client money into personal funds. It is common in businesses where employees are in charge of financial or investment accounts.
Forgery – As in the case of Block Communications, Inc., an employee can forge a check and send it to himself or herself. Forgery can also happen during the preparation of financial statements, where an employee fills in doctored financial numbers like overstated expenses or understated income.
Cybercrime –Theft through the internet is what most fraudsters are turning to right now. These include acts such as phishing and identity theft.
Thorough and Regular Financial Auditing Could Save You
If you currently have one person in charge of all your finances, you are making a big mistake. To solve this problem, carry out routine audits of all your business assets. Do not rely on internal auditors but use third-party auditors as well. You can even use different external auditors once in a while because, we have to admit, there’s not much room for trust when you want to protect your business finances
2. Allowing Anonymous Reporting is an Easy Way to Discover Fraud
Not all employees are bent on ruining your business. A good number will be happy to report suspicious activities, but most prefer to stay anonymous. Some of the reasons why employees seek anonymity include the fear of retaliation from you or the accused and to maintain a cordial working relationship. Make it easy for your employees to report by putting in place an anonymous reporting system.
3. You Can Monitor Employee Activity
As a business owner, the law allows you to monitor employee activity as long as it is in your company’s interest. You can start by installing monitoring equipment such as CCTV cameras in your building.
Secondly, you can use web monitoring software to track what your employees are doing online.
4. Investing in Network Security Can Save You Millions
Did you know that educating and training all your employees about different types of fraud, how they hurt your business, and how to prevent them can save you millions?
The need to create strong passwords and update them cannot be overemphasized. To stay safe from online from crimes such as phishing, you must also use protective internet software.
Another protective move should be to ensure access control systems are in place. Alarm and pass codes, for example, should be unique for each employee. Provide employees with access to only the areas or files that they need to do their job.
5. You Must Communicate Your Zero-tolerance Policy to Employees
Draft and publish a zero-tolerance policy against fraud and share it with your employees. You can, for example, state that you shall deal harshly with any careless acts that expose your business to financial crimes. These can be issues such as sharing passwords or failing to log out of devices.
Such a policy can help employees become more careful when handling company data. They may also become quick to caution or report others who do not comply.
You Can Sue Rogue Employees
White collar crimes can go on for years if you do not know how to detect and prevent them. Imagine how much money you can lose in the process!
At times, no matter how much due diligence you put into place, rogues may still find their way to your finances or financial data. In such cases, you can hire a criminal lawyer to help you recover lost money.