Internal Fraud in Law Offices —Focus is Essential
The staggering truth is that internal fraud in law offices happens more than many realize. Three examples of internal fraud in law offices:
- During a four-year period, this purchasing agent and two vendors defrauded the law firm out of $1 million for supplies never delivered. All three pled guilty.
- A partner of this law firm pled guilty to embezzling $2 million over a sixteen-year period by submitting false expense reports and invoices, and forged checks.
- The long-time bookkeeper of this firm pled guilty to embezzling $4 million by using client money to fund personal expenses.
As the above cases reflect, there is always the threat of internal fraud in law offices. Internal fraud in law offices happens most when breakdowns occur in check requisitions for general and trust accounts, check-signings, monthly reconciliations and adjustments of trust accounts, and outright failure to segregate critical financial duties. Reduce the risk:
1) Recognize the Threat: The risk to internal fraud in law offices is real. The profile of an employee who commits these crimes generally holds a position of trust, has greatest opportunity, is least suspected, and has minimal supervisory oversight.
2) Job Applicants: Reduce your risk by conducting comprehensive background and credit checks on applicants applying for positions of trust.
3) Multiple Tasking: Segregate duties and reduce your risk to internal fraud in law offices by ensuring that no one employee has the ability to affect every stage of a critical work process. Do not allow same individual to totally control funds management, nor should the employee processing accounts payable open incoming mail or be responsible for accounts receivable.
4) Oversight: Proper oversight and monitoring help to ensure that adequate internal controls are in place and enforced.
The above steps will help deter these crimes. If you are serious about learning much more about ways to prevent internal fraud in law offices—order your copy of Business Fraud: From Trust to Betrayal now.