All employers want to trust their employees, but once again we see a case of the employees giving employers a reason not to trust them. In this recent article (Four indicted with embezzling $380,000, Stacy Hairston, The Franklin News-Post, March 10, 2017), we read of four men indicted on a total of 194 felony embezzlement charges. Their scheme, which netted approximately $2,000 per charge, was uncovered when the company they worked for contacted the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office to look into discrepancies on deliveries made to a scrap company. The investigation revealed evidence that the men would use company trucks to deliver the scrap, but receive checks for the scrap in their personal names, not that of the company. The investigation also revealed that the scheme had been going on since 2013. That’s a lot of scrap!
Luckily, the owner suspected that not all the scrap generated was being properly accounted for, resulting in either unexplained shrinkage of inventory or possible diversion of cash receipts.
Some lessons that can be learned from this case, and tips to prevent something similar from happening at your company, follow:
- Only authorized personnel should be allowed to remove and deliver scrap. The person transporting the goods should not be in charge of selling them. Also, the duties involving buying and selling should be segregated.
- Request signed delivery receipt from the scrap company. This would enable both parties to a scrap transaction to better control the purchase and sale, respectively.
- Check and sales receipt returned to office, the same day. There is no reason for lost/misplaced checks or sales receipts, especially when affixing responsibility the day of each expected transaction.
- Make employees accountable for company property by establishing expectations. Require that personnel record the date, time, employee and approximate weight of scrap taken to the scrap company and that they will be returning with sales receipts and/or checks received.
- Keep a record of company property to be disposed of as scrap. Keep a control listing of those items identified for sale as scrap, based upon pre-established approvals. This could be more difficult based upon the definition of inventory versus parts or components. Controlling components may have less perceived benefits, particularly if leftover pieces and parts separated from bigger inventory items have only minor value.
- Keep a designated area to track items waiting to be sold as scrap. By keeping all the scrap in one area, it is easier to gauge the quantity and enhance control efforts.
Diverting a revenue stream is not a common fraud scheme, but it does happen. In this case, the scrap was cumulatively significant in amount and the employees took advantage of the lack of company controls to make some money on the side. If you think your company may be facing a similar revenue diversion scheme, contact Certified Fraud Examiner and CPA Mike Rosten.