Monday, March 29, 2010

You've got to pick an office or two!!

Employee theft: not as obvious as you’d think!

What springs to your mind when you think of employee theft? Light-fingered staff pinching a few pens? Petty cash being raided?

More recently, in a wider and more devastating context, the general public has witnessed the impact of directorial theft and fraud in some of the largest financial institutions. Sadly, it appears that this type of theft can be more easily managed and indeed hidden, by the perpetrators.

The American based IFPO (International Foundation for Protection Officers) state that “75% of all employees steal from their employers at least once throughout their careers. The same statistics show that at least half of these 75% steal multiple times from their employer”. Of itself, this is a terrifyingly high statistic, irrespective of the extent or cost of the theft.

Employee theft can take many forms, some of which may not be clearly obvious; these are some of the more common types of theft:

  • Cash - this is most commonly stolen asset according to the IFPO, so this is not just a problem for the retail sector. Can include kickbacks and overstated expenses.
  • Time -being paid for time not worked, through falsifying time cards / records – or by simply not attending to assigned duties during the course of work.
  • Supplies / Merchandise / Stock
  • Information /Product design / trade secrets etc- usually sold to competitors.
  • Skimming, unrecorded sales and overcharging customers but recording the correct prices in the accounts.

So, what are the options for the business-owner or manager who fears that theft may be occurring in their company? Strong procedure and internal audit processes from the outset can deter and prevent internal theft, however sometimes this can be thought of at a point in time when theft has or is already taking place.
Private Investigator, Annie Murphy of Bluemoon Investigations suggests reviewing the perceived action and applying a suitable method of investigation “Bluemoon often deal with these type of situations for our corporate clients, no two investigations are alike and a relevant tailored approach is adopted in each case. This usually involves surveillance, whether it be physical or electronic. Workplace investigations can be complex with huge potential for legal liability, it is therefore vital that employers call in the professionals as soon as possible to deal with these situations”.

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