Posts Tagged ‘fraud’
A current trial alleging arson and insurance fraud provides CPAs an educational read on the fraud triangle.
Consider these articles if you want more background or to see my sources:
- 3/20/17 – MarketWatch – What drives people to arson? Falling house prices
- 1/27/17 – WLWT – Middletown man’s electronic heart monitor leads to his arrest
- 2/8/17 – Washington Post – A man detailed his escape from a burning house. His pacemaker told police a different story.
A fellow woke to fire in his home, packed a few belongings, called 911, tossed a couple suitcases out the window he broke with his cane, then climbed out the window to save his life.
That’s what he told fire officials and his insurance company.
The fully involved fire, which from a photo looks to have destroyed the home, caused around $400,000 of damages.
Technology can rat you out
His pacemaker told a different story.
In case you hadn’t hear, those telephone calls claiming to be from the IRS demanding you immediately pay back taxes are a scam.
(Cross-posted from my other blog, Nonprofit Update, so you may refer your clients to an article that provides depth on how to avoid becoming victim of recent scams.)
The most frequent scam in 2016 was the phone calls saying “This is the IRS and if you don’t pay your past due taxes this instant we will send someone to your house to arrest you right now.”
There are many things wrong with those calls.
As a starter, your first contact with the IRS will never be by phone. You will instead get a letter explaining what the IRS thinks you messed up.
One thing I’ve learned while being in leadership at my church is that a conflict that appears simple to outsiders is usually far more complicated and messy and ugly than it appears, with blame for a conflict sometimes belonging to the party that appears innocent.
I’m slowly catching on that maybe that idea sometimes applies to massive financial fiascos. (Yeah, yeah, I know. I usually catch on really slow.)
Who is at fault?
Back in January 2008 a trader, Jérôme Kerviel, engaged in €50B of unauthorized trades for Société Générale and hid his trades. That’s fifty billion euros. He admits to making fake entries to hide his admittedly unauthorized trades.
Unwinding the trades cost the bank €4.9B.
I recall at the time that the story line was he was a rogue, a scoundrel, etc., doing all this by himself, etc., single handedly pulling off a huge scam, etc, cleverly wending his way between those tight internal controls, etc.
Previously, Mr. Kerviel was tried and convicted on criminal charges. His initial sentence was five years, which was reduced to two years (I think it was 2 but maybe was 3).
He served five months in prison, according to the following article.
Well, multiple parts of the French judicial system are saying that allocating the blame is a bit more complicated.
Deep sigh. Another banking fiasco hit the papers yesterday. The Wall Street Journal reported Wells Fargo to Pay $185 Million Fine Over Account Openings.
The bank will pay a mere $185M to settle claims brought by OCC, CFPB (Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the new creation of the Dodd-Frank legislation), and LA city attorney.
This scheme involved customer-facing employees opening fake bank accounts in the name of existing customers without the customer’s permission. Another variation is opening a fake account in the name of a nonexistent customer. Article says sometimes money would be transferred from a customer’s account into the new, fake account with occasional NSF fees because there wasn’t enough money in the legitimate account to cover legitimate checks.
Sometimes you just have to laugh.
On June 9, The Wall Street Journal asked Want to Cheat Your Fitbit? Try a Puppy or a Power Drill.
Those informal office challenges to get people to exercise often involve using a Fitbit device to track how far participants walk or run.
Apparently a few folks have decided to take some shortcuts.
One fellow attached his tracker to the blade of an electric saw. After leaving it run overnight he had recorded 57,000 steps the next morning.
The best stories to be told as a result of the massive data leak cannot yet be written.
The really smart people use multiple layers of shell companies to hide assets. When laundering money, one should move assets through a series of companies, with each subsequent jump being anonymous.
A long time ago I attended a continuing education class helping CPAs understand fraud. Why are such classes required? So that, hopefully, maybe, CPAs will be able to recognize fraud when it stares them in the face during the course of an audit.
During the class, the instructor went off script and explained to us how to launder money.
A few articles for CPAs:
- Do group audit standards apply when there is only 1 auditor?
- Pondering on how senior execs “go bad”
- Link between gambling addiction and fraud
- Steps by Big 4 to analyze ‘big data’ in audits
2/24 – Charles Hall at CPA-Scribo – Do the Group Audit Standards Apply When Only One Firm Audits Consolidated Financial Statements? – Short answer to the question: yes, they apply. Sorry if that is a shock to you.