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  • Writer's pictureJerry Ipsen, CFE, MBA

Who's the Most at Risk When It Comes to Construction fraud?

Small companies that have fewer than 100 employees are the most susceptible to construction business fraud. In a Bento for business article which appeared online, the ACFE reported that smaller companies are often more vulnerable to fraud because they are less likely to have good internal controls in place. Fraud at smaller construction businesses may go undetected for longer periods of time, leading to substantial losses. Construction fraud often thrives in environments in which there are few controls.

· Again, fewer Internal Controls

· Absence of oversight (checking the person’s work or audit)

· Frauds tend to go undetected for longer periods of time

Fraudsters who are given broad authority over a single area without someone else checking their work are more likely to commit fraud as a crime of opportunity.

Bookkeeper steals $750,000 from company.

For example, Raenette Yangson, 42, a bookkeeper for Western Construction and Equipment of Anchorage, Alaska was able to steal three-quarters of a million dollars over a period of six years.

Yangson did this by engaging in a fraud scheme during her tenure through which she stole $750,000 from the company. Yangson wrote false checks to herself and to her husband. She would then forge the owner’s signature and make entries in the company’s books to make it appear as if the checks were used to pay vendors. Yangson was later caught and convicted of fraud.

Ipsen Due diligence is available for onsite audits as most internal frauds are often committed by the office manager/ bookkeeper. While many construction heads can weather a short-term loss, I don’t know of any that can afford to lose $750,000. If you’re one who is bottom line conscience and would like your employees to know that fraud, especially by means of embezzlement is unacceptable, Ipsen Due Diligence is the right choice and is available for both audits and fraud prevention.

Routine appearances, just in themselves, often removes the opportunity from those who are likely to steal and may save your company hundreds of thousands of dollars. You may think you’re special, but the employee stealing from you has a much different opinion.

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