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COVID-19: Mitigating the rising risk of employee fraud

COVID-19: Mitigating the rising risk of employee fraud

COVID-19: Mitigating the rising risk of employee fraud

Eric Blot | Director,

During times of crisis, the number of cases of employee fraud and misconduct grow substantially. Investing in due diligence is key to mitigate the risks and identify fraud. Periodically screening and vetting existing employees can protect and enhance the overall security of your organization.

The turbulence of today’s dual health and economic crises is unprecedented. To reduce the risk of insider fraud or misconduct, effective background checks for employees and candidates are an essential and effective countermeasure during the COVID-19 crisis.

Even though we want to believe that the majority of people conduct their work conscientiously and honestly, some of the most devastating threats come from inside an organization. The COVID-19 crisis will lead to a rise in fraud risk and the erosion of trust established between employees and employers. Depending on an employee’s position and the nature of the business, companies face a range of risks including financial loss, money laundering, misappropriation of assets, operational risks and reputational damage.

Conduct a periodic review of existing employees

The ability to trust your employees in the workplace is key for two reasons: successful business are built on trust-based relationships; and employees are most often a company’s most important asset. Robust screening and vetting processes alongside traditional recruitment strategies can help spot red flags. However, this is not enough: periodic review of existing employees is also an essential countermeasure.

Companies must think in terms of life cycles. It’s essential to integrate periodic re-evaluations of existing employees and their permitted access into every insider-threat management strategy.

Use pre-employment screening and vetting processes

With vigorous pre-employment screening and vetting process adapted to the professional function held by the individual, your company can mitigate risks and any negative impact on your business.

The main goal of background check processes is to identify and address specific risks during the recruitment process. However, these checks can also be tailored and used to prevent or detect risks posed by current employees in specific functions. The processes include a review of a candidate’s or employee’s:
 

  • CV
  • Educational background (checking the authenticity of diplomas)
  • Employment background (verifying previous employment credentials or the employer’s authenticity)
  • Work permit (reviewing authenticity or availability)
  • Address (determining if the person resides abroad and uses a P.O. Box as an official address)
  • Criminal records
  • Regulatory and Compliance Database checks (sanction list verifications)
  • Personal and security interview

Establish sound background check processes

Keep in mind that the opportunity for fraud is elevated as we face this unprecedented dual health and economic crisis. Indeed, in difficult times individuals tend to be more motivated to engage in fraudulent behavior as they feel more pressure. Moreover, as distressed or malevolent people seek employment during the crisis, we’ll see a rise in the risk of “enhancing a CV” to stand out.

Establish background check processes to prevent candidates with questionable backgrounds from applying and to inform employees that their specific or contemplated function requires that they be vetted. When setting up screening processes, consider questions such as:
 

  • How will you ensure the candidate’s address of residence is accurate?
  • Have they used a P.O. Box for tax purposes and official correspondence with you?
  • Do they really reside in the country your internal policy requires?
  • How will you ensure that your selected candidate received an MBA from a recognized university?
  • Have they truly completed the MBA?

Investing in due diligence is key to protect against risks and identify fraud at any time. But as we face ongoing economic uncertainty and the coronavirus crisis, screening and vetting are essential to protect and enhance the overall security of your organization.