The increasing responsibility for being accountable for the stewardship of public money is always in the public eye. So how can we reduce the potential of fraud occurring in the workplace?
We all know that the common types of fraud within the UK include theft, fictitious and false invoices, the misuse of public funds and credit card fraud to name a few, however cyber-crime is on the increase. In 2018 the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) created a cyber security checklist for academy trusts and how they can protect themselves from email hacking, phishing and malware. The National Cyber Security Centre published its 10 steps to cyber security which can be a proactive step in prevent fraud.
Having an effective fraud risk management strategy and fraud response plan can also be a proactive step in reducing fraud. One of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of fraud is to develop an effective anti-fraud culture. For example, promoting a zero-tolerance culture to fraud on the workplace which can be done through its financial regulations. Within my organisation we recognise that some purchases can often be procured more cost effectively through the use of the school credit card, however to protect the organisation we need to ensure that the purchases made are for the purpose intended. The introduction of a simple proforma allows the users of the credit card to record the items they intend to purchase prior to the card being used. They must also record the details of the intended business in which the credit card is to be used, alongside the budget the funds are to be recorded against.
To further support our organisations, in early 2019 the Department for Education released guidance for academies, colleges, private training providers and employer providers on receipt of ESFA funding to help them identify potential fraud.
The new guidance outlines generic indicators that have been categorised
- personal motives for fraud
- organisational motives for fraud
- weaknesses in internal controls
- transactional indicators
- possible methods used to commit and/or conceal fraud
- record keeping/banking/other
The guidance allows organisations to focus their thinking within these areas. For example, it is suggested we look at weaknesses within our internal controls such as, personnel and recruitment policies or how we secure out assets, records, computers and data files to name a few.
There are 76 reference points that organisations should work through to ensure their institution can reduce the risk of fraud occurring.