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  • 03Aug

    By admin,

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    If you receive a letter from European Business Number, DO NOT REPLY. DO NOT GIVE ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION.

    This is a phishing scam.

    * Many businesses have received an ‘offer’ from a company calling itself European Business Number (EBN). Once the form has been signed and returned by post, the invoices will start pouring in.

    * This is how it works: the companies receive a letter, including a form with some details already filled in and a return envelope. Recipients are typically under the impression that the pre-printed details need to be checked or altered, and where necessary information needs to be added. They are unaware that once they have returned the form, using the convenient return envelope, they will have signed a contract and can now expect to receive invoices.

    * DO NOT sign and return the form.

  • 18Jul

    By admin,

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    The most cost-effective way to limit fraud losses is to prevent fraud from occurring in the first place.  The largest risk any organisation faces is internal or employee fraud.  This checklist is intended to help organisations test the effectiveness of their internal fraud prevention measures.

    1. Is regular anti-fraud training provided to all employees of the organisation?

    Employers need to make it clear to employees that fraud prevention involves everyone.  The first step is to make sure everyone knows what fraud is and its consequences.

    • Do employees understand what constitutes fraud?
    • Have the costs of fraud to the organisation and everyone in it – including lost profits, adverse publicity, reputational damage, potential job loss and decreased morale and productivity – been made clear to employees?
    • Do employees know where to seek advice when faced with uncertain ethical decisions, and do they believe that they can speak freely?
    • Has a policy of zero tolerance for fraud been communicated to employees through words and actions?
    1. Is there an effective fraud reporting mechanism?

    Employees are the eyes and ears of an organisation and it should be easy for them to report potential issues either internally or even via a confidential telephone “hotline”

    • Have employees been taught how to communicate concerns about known or potential wrongdoing?
    • Is there an established reporting channel, such as a third-party hotline, available to employees?
    • Do employees trust that they can report suspicious activity anonymously and/or confidentially (where legally permissible) and without fear of reprisal?
    • Has it been made clear to employees that reports of suspicious activity will be promptly and thoroughly evaluated?
    • Do reporting policies and mechanisms extend to suppliers, customers, and other outside parties?
    1. Are proactive measures taken in relation to prevention and detection of fraud?

    Frauds take place because fraudsters have the means, opportunity and motive to commit fraud.  The first two are internal to the organisation and so can be controlled.  An effective and adequately resourced internal audit function act is a great resource.  Proactive measures include:

    • Is possible fraudulent conduct pro-actively sought out, rather than dealt with passively by a reaction to its discovery?
    • Does the organisation send the message that it actively seeks out fraudulent conduct through fraud assessment questioning by auditors?
    • Are surprise fraud audits performed in addition to regularly scheduled audits?
    • Is continuous monitoring software used to detect fraud and, if so, has the use of such software been made known throughout the organisation?
    • Does the organisation have a written fraud response plan in place?
    1. Is the tone at the top one of honesty and integrity?

    It is essential that management is seen to lead the way when it comes to honesty, integrity and business ethics.  Employees will follow the example they are set.

    • Are employees surveyed anonymously to determine the extent to which they believe management acts with honesty/integrity and measure the morale of the organisation?
    • Are the ethics of the business communicated to employees, customers and suppliers?
    • Are performance goals realistic?
    • Is remuneration and reward closely linked to achieving target?
    • Have fraud prevention goals been incorporated into the performance measures that are used to evaluate managers and to determine performance-related compensation?
    • Has the organisation established, implemented, and tested a process for oversight of fraud risks by the Board of Directors or others charged with governance (e.g. the audit committee)?
    1. Is there a fraud risk assessments programme in place?

    Fraud risks are constantly changing and it is vital that the 4 step process to fraud risks is followed:

    • Assessment of potential vulnerabilities
    • Reduction and mitigation
    • Monitoring and managing
    • Response to red flags
    1. Are strong and specific anti-fraud controls in place?

    It is important to distinguish between “procedures” and “controls”.  The former set out what should be done.  The latter is a check that the procedure has been followed correctly.  Many straight forward controls sound obvious but are not implemented.  Some examples are:

    • Proper segregation of duties
    • Use of authorisations
    • Physical safeguards
    • Job rotations
    • Mandatory vacations
    • CCTV and logging of access to computers and network
    • Regular changes to passwords
    1. Does the recruitment policy include the following, where possible?

    Many fraudsters are let go by previous employers and move on quietly to new organisations.  Pre-employment checks are a vital control to identifying potential issues before it is too late.  Including:

    • Past employment verification
    • Criminal and civil background checks
    • Credit checks
    • Drug screening
    • Education verification
    • Reference checks
    1. Is an employee assistance programs in place to help employees struggling with addiction, mental/emotional health, family or financial problems?

    All frauds require means, opportunity and motive.  Motive is usually some form of financial pressure on an employee.  Providing support to help employees deal with such issues is an important preventative measure.

  • 18Jul

    By admin,

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    Expert Witnesses must always be aware that their primary job is to assist the Court and not to be an Advocate for the party that has retained them.  For a Court to be able to rely on the evidence of an Expert Witness the following guidelines will be of assistance:

    1.  An Expert Witness should at all stages provide independent assistance to the Court.
    2. The Expert Witness should not give evidence as to what the expert would have done in similar circumstances or otherwise seek to usurp the role of the judge.
    3. An Expert Witness should co-operate with the expert of the other party.
    4. The expert evidence presented to the Court should be, and should be seen to be, independent.
    5. An Expert Witness should state the facts and/or assumptions upon which their opinion is based.
    6. An Expert Witness should make it clear when a question falls outside their experience.
    7. An Expert Witness must say explicitly if they think their conclusions are based on inadequate facts.
    8. An Expert Witness must be ready to reconsider their opinion.

    Point 2 presents an easy trap to fall into in relation to assessing the conduct of a professional.  The real question to be addressed by the expert is whether the professional acted in accordance with a practice accepted at the time as proper by a responsible body of opinion skilled in the relevant field (Bolam v Friem Hospital Management Committee (1957) 1 WLR 582).

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