BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — It might seem like fraud only goes down at the HealthSouths and the Enrons of the world, but each year, around 5 percent of the revenue of a business, government institution or nonprofit goes into the pockets of its employees, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
The total last year was estimated to be around $3.5 trillion, with organizations losing a median amount of $140,000 and one in five causing at least $1 million in losses, a report from the organization says. It might take months or years to uncover occupational fraud, but there are some steps companies can take to detect “red flags,” said Kelly Todd of the Birmingham- based financial investigation firm Forensic Strategic Solutions, which combines fraud examination with investigative financial consulting. The firm is hired by a company, government, municipality, school district or church’s legal counsel when fraud is suspected.
Whether it’s a Fortune 500 corporation or a small business, the damages — and sometimes the reasons for the damages — are the same.
The ACFE’s report said the most likely way of detecting fraud is through a tip, with the majority of them coming from within the company. But surprisingly, even though billions of dollars are lost, Todd said few employers press charges — they just fix it.
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