Scrutinise staff to protect against fraud

All financial software applications contain weaknesses which can be taken advantage of by staff to perpetrate fraud, according to experts.

As a result, companies must pay far more attention to the human element rather than the technical one when trying to combat fraud.

A recent survey conducted by security consultant @stake revealed that almost two thirds of inhouse finance applications are seriously flawed.

Andrew Durant head of the fraud unit at BDO Stoy Hayward found that when hiring staff, employers are careless and don’t investigate a candidate’s background enough.

He added that no system is completely flawless and as a result, trustworthy and reliable staff count for a lot more. ‘You can put controls in place, but people are crafty and can get around them,’ he said.

In a recent case, one of Durant’s clients had been defrauded by one of his accountants who had taken advantage of the company’s flawed inhouse software to put money into his own pocket.

But after some digging, he found the accountant had already been suspended from another company – which incidentally used the same in-house accounting system – on suspicion of fraud.

He also found the employee was under severe financial pressure from gambling debts. ‘In all the cases we investigate, at least two of the following are present: pressure, lack of integrity and opportunity,’ said Durant.

He recommended employers ensure they recruit the right staff and check out their credentials with former employers. Businesses must also train other staff to identify the signs of someone perpetrating fraud, such as working out of hours.

And when buying software, he said, it is important to contact businesses which have used the software, as they are better placed to convey its good and bad points. If that’s not possible, he advised companies to opt for an independent consultant.

He added that buying well-known brands is safer than smaller unknown ones.

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