OFFICE COORDINATOR FOUND GUILTY OF ONE COUNT OF FRAUD

     30 April, 2019

    Ms Smith, (not her real name) was the Office Coordinator of a family run business, a Mother of four children who was found guilty of one count of fraud and sentenced to five and a half years imprisonment in the  District Court of Queensland on Thursday, 16 July 2015, after a withdrawal and restoration of a plea of guilty.

    Some of Judge Kinghams’ comments to Ms Smith were ” I’m going to sentence you now for the offence that you’ve pleaded guilty to on an earlier occasion, and that ‘s one count of fraud as an employee to the value of $30,000 or more. This is a most serious offence. It occurred when you were aged between 34 and 38 years. You are now a 40 year old woman.  You came to work with your employer with a good work history and you assumed a responsibility of trust as an office coordinator, with increasing involvement in accounts management.

    The reason this offence is so serious is the breach of that significant trust that is placed in you as an employee. You offended over a three-year, eight-month period, so almost four years.  You used your position within a family company that employed 40-odd employees.  You used that position to manipulate payments to or from suppliers, and in the process you received into a number of accounts a large amount of money:  $249,876.70, involved in 62 transactions. As a result of payments that you made, the total loss to the company, not including the audit costs, which would   have been in the tens of thousands themselves, was $194′,665.38.  Your offending was discovered when you went on leave”.

    The aggravating features here are the significant breach of trust given your role within the company; the lengthy period over which you offended; the amount involved ; and the amount to which the company was out of pocket – and I do add there the costs involved for the company in investigating your fraud, given they were not insured – the nature of your deception; the number of transactions; the number of accounts that you used; and the movement of money between accounts. All of these  indicate a very high level of deception. It’s important to note that on each occasion that you did it – whether it was organising for the money to go into an account or moving it from one account to another every time you did that, that was a criminal act”.

    Here at Forensic Accounting Qld we are dealing with more and more matters like this.  However, not all of exposed fraudsters are reported to the Police or necessarily taken to court. This is unfortunate as the impact of such a crime creates such a huge domino effect not only across the Proprietors’ of the Company but also their families and the Community.  Fraud prevention administration procedures should be paramount to any business and if you are not sure if your business has such preventative measures in place, then you need to find out!!

    This case highlights the importance of engaging the correct professional help at the first indication of an anomaly or any fraud behavioural red flag[1].

    Having a Certified Fraud Examiner (“CFE”) on your team will give you the best possible chance of achieving a successful prosecution and maximising a civil recovery in any occupational fraud.  The CFE credential denotes proven expertise in fraud prevention, detection and deterrence.

    The ACFE[2] is the world’s largest anti-fraud organization and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education. Together with more than 75,000 members, the ACFE is reducing business fraud worldwide and inspiring public confidence in the integrity and objectivity within the profession.

    CFEs around the world help protect the global economy by uncovering fraud and implementing processes to prevent fraud from occurring in the first place.

    [1] 2014 ACFE Report to the Nations: http://www.acfe.com/rttn-red-flags.aspx

    [2] http://www.acfe.com/

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