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© 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor The Fraud Triangle Nancy Bode, Assistant Legal Counsel Office of the Minnesota State Auditor NASACT Middle.

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Presentation on theme: "© 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor The Fraud Triangle Nancy Bode, Assistant Legal Counsel Office of the Minnesota State Auditor NASACT Middle."— Presentation transcript:

1 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor The Fraud Triangle Nancy Bode, Assistant Legal Counsel Office of the Minnesota State Auditor NASACT Middle Management Conference April 18, 2013

2 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Office of the Minnesota State Auditor (OSA): Responsibilities A Constitutional Office Financial oversight includes: Counties Cities School Districts Towns Volunteer Fire Relief Assn Pension Funds Soil and Water Conservation Districts Port Authorities Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts As well as approximately 150 other special districts Minnesota Legislative Auditor – state entities

3 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor OSA Divisions Audit Practice Pension Tax Increment Financing Government Information Legal/Special Investigations

4 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Legal/Special Investigations Division The Legal/Special Investigations Division investigates allegations of theft or misuse of public funds by local government units (LGU). It also provides legal compliance information and training to local government officials.

5 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor The Fraud Triangle Motive/Incentive (Financial Pressure) Rationalization Opportunity

6 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Fraud Triangle: Motive/Incentive Gambling Medical issues Spouses layoff or anticipated layoffs Declining financial condition

7 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Fraud Triangle: Rationalization Minimize Ill pay it back (just borrowed the money) Compensate for overtime A mistake/accident Theyll never miss it Everybody does it Blame They dont pay me enough Fellow employee created the opportunity Unusual expenses in personal life

8 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Fraud Triangle: Opportunity Cash Lack of segregation of duties Inadequate internal controls Management override Poor environment This is the one that can be controlled.

9 Fraud Risk Factors Are employees/ management under pressure? Do they have an incentive to commit fraud? Do employees or management have an attitude that allows them to rationalize fraud? Does the opportunity to commit fraud exist? SAS No. 99; AU § 316 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor

10 Reduce Risk of Fraud: Tools of Protection Reduce opportunity with: Segregation of Duties Internal Control Procedures Environment

11 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Tools of Protection: Segregation of Duties One person should not control an entire transaction (separate authorization, recording & custody) No employee should be in a position to commit fraud and then conceal it Build double-checks into process Cross-training (assignment/job rotation) Trust but verify

12 Problem: School Gate Receipts Not Deposited Athletic Director, acting alone, counts money from games and prepares deposits Solution: Athletic Director records starting ticket numbers & number of ticket takers and makes deposits Ticket takers record sales & turn in paperwork to main office Main office reconciles Athletic Directors deposit and ticket takers records & resolves any discrepancies © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor

13 Problem: Fees Not Deposited Fees collected by department not turned in to central office for deposit OR not deposited by central office Solution (check on dept): Dept issues pre- numbered receipts for fees collected & turns in copies to central office; central office reconciles fees with amount received from dept Solution (check on central office): Dept obtains pre-numbered receipt from main office and periodic (monthly) updates of collections posted to dept account (deposits); dept reconciles receipts and deposits © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor

14 Solution: Segregation of Duties for Receipts Someone other than person collecting money compares items sold to money collected (movie theatre example) Person collecting money is not person preparing deposit Person collecting money receives periodic report of deposits Second person OKs all voids/refunds

15 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Problem: Employee Writes Self Check Check written to employee Check recorded as void or as written to a vendor Amount of check changed from that approved Check to phantom vendor/employee No one notices

16 Problem: ATM Cash Advances Using Entitys Credit Card Person with PIN number & credit card also received bills, made copies of bills for board review/approval, wrote checks & entered in ledger Cash advances & finance charges removed from credit card bills submitted for approval 1 check paid approved credit card bill; 2 nd check (never approved by board) paid for cash advances & finance charges; phony or other legitimate vendor entered in ledger for 2 nd check © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor

17 Solution: Segregation of Duties for Disbursements Review of bank statement and canceled checks (optical images) completed by someone not involved with check writing Amount altered? Void check cashed? Unauthorized checks written? Checks out of sequence or gaps in check sequence? Compare with claims approved Small entities: Involve board member or other employee

18 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Solution: Segregation of Duties for Disbursements (continued) Do not pre-sign checks, deposit slips, or receipts Obtain all required signatures on checks (> 1) Beware of signature stamps

19 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Solution: Segregation of Duties Involve the bank: No cash back during deposits No cashing of checks made payable to public entity No fund transfers without written authorization Up-to-date authorized signatures All required signatures on checks

20 Tools of Protection: Internal Controls Safeguard funds Efficient & effective management of assets Maintain integrity of financial systems Protect employees Primary internal control weakness contributing to fraud: Outright lack of controls (35% overall; 45% for small entities) Overriding of existing controls (19%) Lack of management review (19%) Source: ACFE 2012 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse (http://www.acfe.com/rttn- highlights.aspx)http://www.acfe.com/rttn- highlights.aspx © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor

21 Problem: Receipts Not Deposited Special risks with cash receipts Skimming Cash removed prior to deposit (un-receipted cash) Lapping Receipted cash replaced with un-receipted checks

22 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Solution: Internal Controls for Receipts Timely, intact deposits Timely reconciliation of receipts with deposits No cashing of personal checks out of un- deposited receipts No borrowing from public funds (no IOUs or markers) Note if payment is by cash or check (& check number) & compare to deposit Detect lapping Confirm intact deposit List issuers name and amount of checks on bank deposit slips

23 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Solution: Internal Controls for Receipts (continued) Pre-numbered receipts for all payments/sales; pre-numbered tickets for events Gap in sequence? Second approval on voids? Consolidate cash collection points Do not leave receipts unattended Endorse checks For Deposit Only

24 Problem: Unauthorized Payments Public funds used for personal purchases Credit card Petty cash Expense reimbursements Electronic fund transfers Phantom vendors © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor

25 Solution: Internal Controls for Disbursements Require original invoices & original itemized receipts (prevent the slice & dice) Reference claims approved (with amounts) in minutes Retain voided checks See OSAs Statements of Position: Credit Cards Petty Cash The Importance of Internal Controls See OSAs Avoiding Pitfalls: Petty Cash (3 part series) Electronic Funds Transfers Fuel Purchases Phantom Vendors And many more...

26 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Problem: Misuse of Public Property/Time Personal use of public equipment or work hours

27 Solution: Written Policies and Procedures Written policies and procedures Prevent problems Allow discipline where appropriate Create consistency for all employees Set the environment See, e.g., OSAs Statement of Position on Employee Timekeeping Procedures for Employees Paid on an Hourly or Daily Basis; OSAs Avoiding Pitfall on Documentation of Accounting Policies and Procedures © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor

28 Tools of Protection: Environment Set the tone at the top Create a culture of accountability All employees understand the importance of internal controls & their role Monitor compliance

29 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Problem: Weak Control Environment Disengaged or otherwise engaged governing body or management Employees reluctant to voice concerns No action taken when noncompliance with internal controls, late deposits or reports Governing body and management fail to set the tone at the top Management override

30 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Solution: Control Environment The same rules apply to all Dont belittle internal control procedures Its the publics money Avoid conflicts of interest Take appropriate discipline for violations Be alert to employees outside interests

31 Red Flags Red flags exhibited in fraud cases, according to ACFE 2012 Report to the Nations Living beyond means (35.6%) Experiencing financial difficulties (27%) Having an unusually close association with vendor/customer (19%) Displaying excessive control issues/ unwillingness to share duties (18%) Often multiple red flags © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor

32 Common Myth No fraud here – see our recent audit. Reality: Entities over-rely on external audits to detect fraud Initial detection of fraud, according to ACFE 2012 Report to the Nations: 43.3% tips (of those, 50.9% were from employees) 14.6% management review 14.4% internal audit 7.0% by accident 3.3% external audit

33 Suspect Fraud? Minn. Stat. § LGU employee/officer who discovers evidence of theft, embezzlement, unlawful use or misuse of public funds or property Must promptly report to state auditor (in writing) and to law enforcement Identity of reporter is private data (Minn. Stat. § 6.715, subd. 2) Reporting form is on OSA website © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor

34 OSAs Response to Report Do you need OSAs help investigating? Has matter been reported to law enforcement? What internal control changes have you made to prevent/detect similar problems in the future? © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor

35 Suspect Fraud? Other Considerations In addition to Minn. Stat. § reporting requirement: Criminal matter? Disciplinary action? Collect on bond/insurance? Get advice © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor

36 Number of Reports to OSA 609 Reports

37 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor More Common Myths The accountants/auditors are responsible for internal controls. Sound internal controls will eliminate all fraud. We have an accounting policy & procedure manual. Do individual departments follow it? Is it current?

38 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor More Common Myths It cant happen here. Only big entities (with big budgets) can have internal controls. Reality: Small entities are particularly vulnerable to fraud (ACFE 2012 Report to the Nations)

39 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Website: Statements of Position Investigative Reports Internal Control Letters E-Updates (Avoiding Pitfalls) Reporting Forms And More...

40 © 2013 Office of the Minnesota State Auditor Contact Information Nancy Bode 525 Park Street, Suite 500 St. Paul, MN (651) NOTE: The OSA does not provide legal advice or representation to local governments.


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