When it comes to being a victim of fraud, I count myself among the lucky ones, as fraud and I have had only brief flings.
I was once "shoulder-surfed" for my calling card number (this, of course, prior to cell phones) and you can imagine my surprise when my monthly bill included exorbitant charges for a three-hour call to Kabul, Afghanistan.
I was tempted to call the number, but on the other hand, my Dari is somewhat limited.
Arguably, another exception to my reasonably good fortune in sidestepping fraud was the time I lent my brother-in-law money he promised to pay back in a month. Nine years later, I still have yet to see a dime.
Forget Enron or WorldCom, the foolish practice of lending relatives money should alone have sparked massive anti-fraud legislation.
Yet a recent survey on fraud detection and prevention signals that some members of corporate America are frightfully slow learners when it comes to detecting and preventing fraud.
Despite countless seminars, lectures and media coverage it's astonishing to see how many companies are bereft of any type of formal fraud-prevention program.
And when I refer to companies, I'm not talking about Sal's Pizzeria or Big Red's Muffler Service, but companies large enough to be polled by Big Four firm Deloitte's Financial Advisory Services unit.
In a recent Deloitte FAS Webcast, some 1,200 internal auditors and financial policy risk managers at companies in diverse industries such as financial services, real estate, technology, life sciences and health care, responded to a series of questions focused on fraud risk issues.
While nearly half of those participating (49 percent) said they had a "coordinated and comprehensive" approach regarding fraud detection and prevention, a surprising 36 percent responded that their respective companies had no formal program in place.
Now sit back and think about that for a moment.
Over one third of the Deloitte sample revealed that they either had no fraud prevention policy, or one that was more or less run on an ad hoc basis.
Sadly, some companies have learned painful lessons about the importance of fraud prevention, much like a homeowner who has put off changing the batteries in the smoke detector.
But if upper management isn't placing a high priority on fraud prevention, or has the responsibility scattered among different areas of the company with no strict cohesion, then you can assume someone inside their organization, or close to it, has placed a high priority on fraud perpetration.
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