One of the worst things a business can deal with is theft from a trusted employee. This interview with Tiffany Couch, a Certified Fraud Examiner, covers some of the ways you can avoid employee theft, or catch it before you’ve lost thousands:
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, American small businesses lose an average of 5 percent of their annual gross revenues to insider fraud — that is, theft committed by their own employees. The Washington Post wrote about one recent, high-profile example: Debra Biagi was the assistant to the chairman at HB Nitkin Group, a family-owned real estate management and development firm in Greenwich, CT. She stole a total of $711,074.39 between February 2014 and December 2015. While this was certainly an extreme case of fraud, it is all too common in small businesses around the country.
Tiffany Couch, CPA/CFF, CFE, is the author of The Thief in Your Company: Protect Your Organization from the Financial and Emotional Impacts of Insider Fraud (Lioncrest Publishing, 2017). Couch is forensic accountant and a former chairwoman of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. She has spent the last 12 years — as she puts it — “operating as a sleuth with an adding machine.” She spends her days helping small businesses, nonprofits and large corporations alike resolve cases of suspected insider fraud.
According to Couch, no organization is immune. And, while there’s certainly not a thief in every company, there are usually many opportunities for fraudsters to strike. Moreover, she notes, “trust is not an internal control.” Fortunately, Couch offers a few simple and effective steps that business owners should take to reduce the likelihood of fraud. The following is an excerpt of her interview with Forbes.