A Scandalous Expense…
For months now I have held this story close to my chest. I have wanted to share this story, and more importantly the learnings, though was uncertain how to communicate it in the right context and debated internally whether it was appropriate to blog about. However, on my recent trip to Perth (pre-approved on my expense8 Pre-trip approval module of course), it got me thinking how common this story is. I’ve often shared this story with others in my Expense Management network and in turn they have responded with similar stories of their own – same events, different organisation. From the realisation that this is unfortunately a common tale, I feel it’s best to share my insights with you, forewarned is forearmed as they say.
The grounds of my uncertainty on publishing this was due to the unfavourable subject of brothels. While avoiding going into depth on the details, this story discusses an employee’s trip to a brothel. Multiple trips to be specific, I guess this gentleman had a penchant.
This particular organisation was new to the purchasing card landscape, only just rolling out their first phase of cards for the first time. At this stage, their policies and procedures were “in progress” and they had only rolled out 50 cards, reaching only 1% of the total targeted number of cards for the programme. Of the 50 cards distributed, one employee had almost immediately started abusing the purchasing card process. In the space of four days, the employee had engaged in multiple frauds, and subsequently left the organisation. This started one day as he headed to a brothel, purchasing card in hand, and made his transaction. This behaviour followed onto the next day, then again the day after that. On the fourth day, he called the bank directly to cancel his card as it had been “stolen” days ago. He then promptly resigned and left the organisation that day. It was only months later that his fraudulent transactions were noticed but by this point, he was long gone.
So What Happened Next?
Obviously once the shock had passed and the realisation that this could indeed happen in their organisation, the next obvious question was raised… What else has been happening that we haven’t found out about yet? This is a great question, one that needs to be asked every day by finance executives. Analytics were run to determine anything left uncovered and the end results were interesting to say the least. To the organisation’s relief, no further instances were found of employees transacting with “adult” vendors, however there were some interesting transactions that didn’t align with the business this organisation were in. Amongst those transactions found were purchases at jewellery stores, footwear retailers, government revenue departments, and these were just a few of the results. What work related business could one transact at a footwear shop? Why were fuel merchants appearing on a purchase card when employees with cars have fuel cards?
I think it’s safe to say most finance executives would shudder upon reading this and from my own experience, when it comes to the Expense Management ecosystem, the fear of these events happening in their own organisations, is what keeps these executives up at night. Ultimately, what executives need is the assurance that their policies, procedures and controls are working effectively.
So how do you get that assurance?
How Expense8 Can Help You
Fortunately for you, Expense8 has a solution that integrates your Expense Policy into the system, helping you reduce any chance of future fraud related expenses from occurring.
Here’s a guide we wrote, ‘3 Ways to Beat Travel & Expense Fraud’, a quick read and easy for you to share with your team. Click here to download this guide now!