Employee fraud: think before you fire

Fraud can happen in any company. Once it’s discovered the one thing not to do right away is to fire the suspected employee.

Even though the first instinct would be to terminate the worker right away (whether with or without cause) or to pay them to leave can actually be counter-intuitive and you’d be better off keeping them on – at least for a time.

If you fire the employee and simply let them walk away, you’re eliminating a great source of information because once they leave it would be pretty difficult to ask them to come back for questioning. It’s in the interviewing stages with suspected fraudsters that reveals a lot of important details about the fraud. The best way to retain them while conducting a full investigation is to put them on leave. Then you can find out the extent and details of the fraud.

Forensic Restitution investigates for fraud detection and prevention, computer forensics, data analysis and recovery, insurance claims, and cyber crime, among other niches. Mitigating risk in your company can be done by having a good tip (whistleblower) hotline and conducting a fraud risk assessment. About half of frauds are uncovered through whistleblowers compared to internal controls or external audits.

Technology has made fraud easier to facilitate in some ways: it’s easy to make up a fake invoice or letter.

Companies with less than 100 employees are more frequent targets for fraud, mainly because bigger corporations have better internal controls and tip hotline systems in place. Conversely, larger companies often don’t report incidents of fraud because they’re worried about their reputation.

Lastly, if you do fire the employee and don’t prosecute them, remember this: they’ll just be able to go onto their next job and do the same thing again to another company.

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