"Small businesses are the most vulnerable to occupational fraud and abuse because a lot of times the business does not have the resources to set up proper controls within the company," said Mark Dubina, president of the local chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. "That doesn't mean that it can't happen anywhere, but I think people focus on the big things that happen and kind of lose sight that this hurts everybody, down to the smallest cases," said Dubina, a special agent supervisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
At a small company, one employee might be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities that would be separated among several workers at a larger company.For example, one person might be in charge of keeping the books, balancing the checkbook and handling the accounts payable.
"We see significant losses to small companies because of trust in employees," Dubina
said."A lot of them were long- term employees who had gained the trust of their employer, and then for whatever reason had taken advantage of that trust."
For a small company, employee fraud isn't just measured in lost revenue and missed opportunities.
"I think it's devastating," Dubina
said."At small companies, people know each other more intimately than they do in a bigger environment.The victim, which is usually going to be the CEO or president, is going to feel betrayed and that creates a problem in the company because it changes the work environment."
Companies large and small must contend with a spectrum of abuse, from padded expense reports to grand larceny.Fraud examiners separate abuse into three categories.
said it's important for companies to set ethics policies.
"When you leave it open to interpretation, you have to expect that people won't necessarily do what you want them to do." Dubina
also suggests background checks for new hires.
"A lot of times, potential employees lie on their applications about their criminal history or other things that could raise a red flag," he