Auditor’s Role “Expectation Gap” Public assumes purpose of the audit is to catch fraud. Statement on Auditing Standards 99 (AICPA Acct Stds Bd) “The auditor has responsibility to plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether caused by error or fraud. “ Auditors prepare report on whether the financial statements are fairly presented. They should investigate suspected frauds uncovered during their review, but not primary objective.
How Much Fraud Is There? Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Annual Report (www.acfe.org) 1,843 cases surveyed Jan08-Dec09 (40% outside US) Average loss 5% of annual revenue Median Loss $160k, 25% > $1m Financial Statement Fraud $4.1m, Corruption $280k, Asset Misappropriation $135k Asset misappropriation cases most common 90%, Corruption 22%, Financial Statement Fraud 4% (Overlap because many cases involve more than one) SOURCE: 2010 ACFE Annual Fraud Report
Who Commits Fraud? Employees 42% (median loss $80k) Managers 41% (median loss $200k) Executives 17% (median loss ($723k) SOURCE: 2010 ACFE Annual Fraud Report
Gender and Age of Fraudsters Men 57% The median $ loss is 2.5x women 40% have between 1-5 years seniority The longer they have worked there, the bigger the average theft 50% between ages 31-45 Losses sharply increase with age SOURCE: 2010 ACFE Annual Fraud Report
87% had no previous criminal record 83% never punished or terminated from earlier job SOURCE: 2010 ACFE Annual Fraud Report Fraudsters Records
How Long Does Fraud Last? Median time before detection 18 months Our frauds for two Water & Sewer Districts went on for 6-7 years SOURCE: 2010 ACFE Annual Fraud Report
How Did They Do It? Missing/Weak Internal Controls (37.8%) Override of Good Internal Controls (19.2%) Lack of Management Review (17.9%) Poor “Tone at the Top” (8.4%) Incompetent Oversight (6.9%) No Independent Oversight (5.6%) All others (4.2%) SOURCE: 2010 ACFE Annual Fraud Report
How Do Manager Think Fraud is Detected? External Audit – 76% Internal Audit 69% Fraud Training-Managers 42% Fraud Training-Employees-40% Job Rotation/Mandatory Vacations-15% SOURCE: 2010 ACFE Annual Fraud Report
How is Fraud Actually Detected? Fraud Tip Line (40.2%) Management (15.4%) Internal Audit (13.9%) Accident (8.3%) Account Reconciliations (6.1%) Document Review (5.2%) External Audit (4.6%) SOURCE: 2010 ACFE Annual Fraud Report
Warning Signs Living beyond means (43%) Financial difficulties (36%) Control issues (23%) Close with vendors/customers (22%) “Wheeler-Dealer” style (19%) Divorce/Family Issues (18%) Addictions (12%) Never takes vacations (10%) Frequent complaints about pay/promotions (5%) SOURCE: 2010 ACFE Annual Fraud Report
Three Steps to a Fraud Commit-Take the money, create the false vendor, etc. Perception of effective internal controls is best way to stop this. Conceal-Alter records to make detection difficult Effective internal controls make hiding the fraud more difficult Convert-Alter the form of what has been taken into something useful to the fraudster Conversion can be internal (check for cash) or external (ebay?)
Magic Anti-Fraud Bullet: Segregation of Duties When one person can perform any two of the following, there it’s a fraud opportunity: Custody Function Who actually handles the cash, stuff, etc? This includes the District checkbook. Approval Who approves the use or transfer of the asset? Recording/Reconciliation Who records the use or transfer? Who prepares the source documents?
Types of Fraud Theft of assets (generally cash, but could be equipment/inventory) Most common, but lower in total amount Improper expenditures (fake vendors “ghost” employees) Less common, but larger Financial Statement
Cash Receipts Frauds Is all money getting to bank when it should, and are all adjustments valid? Skimming/Underreporting (before entering system) Cash Theft (receipts already recorded in accounting system) Ways money comes in? Mail, credit cards, wire, cash receipts at the counter, etc?
Preventing Cash Receipts Fraud Segregation of duties Handlers of cash should never be able to adjust accounts Separate tills (can be a challenge) Use receipts that are difficult to alter (prenumbered, Z-Tapes,etc) Daily deposit of ALL funds (RCW requires) Even if you don’t know why you got it, accounting can figure it out later Daily reconciliation of deposit to CR records Composition of deposits (Does check/cash composition match what the bank received?)
Are you getting the benefit of all your purchases? Small and attractive items Theft of inventory Borrowing of equipment Disposal of “Surplus” or “Damaged” equipment
Preventing Misappropriation Frauds Internal Controls Separate approval of purchases Separate approval of writeoffs, surplus, scrap Policy prohibiting personal use of district assets Tagging the assets Physical control over inventory/equipment (locked room) Periodic inventory count Fraud Hotline (SAO, District)
Disbursement Frauds Do you know where your money is going? False Billing Fraud Fake invoices/Fake Vendors Pay & Return Scheme (Real vendors asked to return “overpayment”) Kickback schemes (Vendor actually participates in fraud) Mileage expenses
Preventing Disbursement Frauds Separate person authorizing payment Original invoice supports expenditure Documentation supports vouchers Person who actually knows is the person who approves it Duplicate payments? Do warrants from the county agree to the warrant register? Different person making the comparison Control of the mailing of the warrants Different person mails the payments after they are prepared
Payroll Frauds Are you paying the right people? “Ghost” employees/PT padded to FT Right people paid wrong amount? Padding timesheets Unapproved Raises/Benefits Leave records? Effectively a raise, since the employee has more vacation as a result
Preventing Payroll Frauds Internal Controls Reconciliation of the pay disbursements to the pay records Who creates and maintains the payroll/records? Who approves the timesheets? Can the fraudster alter them after approval? Who hands out the checks?
Financial Statement Frauds Takes place in the public sector as well Bond covenants Grant requirements Types of Frauds Concealment of expenditures or liabilities Improper disclosures Related parties
Preventing Frauds Generally “Tone at the Top” District’s leadership must embrace integrity as a core value of the organization. Truthful reporting more important than favorable reporting Segregation of Duties Challenging in smaller entities. Compensating controls must be found
Preventing Frauds Generally Organizational Structure – commissioner as acting treasurer RCW 57.12.010 does not require it (Risk vs Compliance) Hiring Practices Background checks on employees and vendors regarding finance/accounting Employee Training All employees are part of the fraud fighting team Terminate and Prosecute Fraudsters
What Can Electeds/GMs Do? Ask Dumb Questions! Until you understand the answers. Don’t let accounting’s sophistication intimidate you. Review Transactions Spend an afternoon every few months at the District looking at vouchers. Ask more questions
What Can Elected Officials Do? Listen to Staff How would they improve their jobs? Don’t expect to see fraud everywhere, but don’t be afraid to see it either
Example of What You Can do “I gave my first treasurer’s report at the commissioners meeting last night. I only pretended to know what I was talking about, fortunately, the other commissioners only pretended that they were listening.” Acting treasurer role – needed for oversight function on every district Board of Commissioners
Resources State Auditor’s Office –www.sao.wa.gov Fraud Hotline - 1-866-902-3900 Washington State Society of CPAs – WSCPA.Org Association of Certified Fraud Examiners – ACFE.Org WSRMP Internal Control Handouts