First fraud awareness campaign launched

Sarah Reece and Jennifer Miller are auditors in The Wetherby Administration Building who are currently leading a campaign of fraud awareness for WKU students. “Every individual on campus has an important role to play in fraud prevention and detection,” Reece said. “We want to be a resource for reporting unethical activities and assist departments in closing control” Miller said. They want students to not be afraid to come to their office if they believe fraud is taking place.

Nicole Ziege

The Office of Internal Audit at WKU has launched its first Fraud Awareness and Prevention campaign focused on occupational fraud, according to Jennifer Miller, director of internal audit.

“We wanted to do something like that for educational purposes and just an outreach service,” Miller said. “We just haven’t had the luxury of time.”

Internal fraud, which is also called occupational fraud, can be defined as “the use of one’s occupation for personal enrichment through the deliberate misuse or misapplication of the organization’s resources or assets,” according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

Miller said the campaign is “basically a face-to-face discussion/presentation” that explains occupational fraud, what it looks like and how it can impact WKU.

The Fraud Awareness and Prevention campaign presentation, which is given by Internal Auditor Sarah Reece, discusses the most common “fraud schemes,” which includes “asset misappropriation” and the Fraud Triangle, which includes financial pressure, rationalization and opportunity, Reece said.

Reece said occupational fraud can include expense reimbursements “that may not be work related or employment related.”

Real world examples of “smaller-value schemes” of occupational fraud include purchasing items for personal use on a WKU procurement card, forging signatures to approve unauthorized expenses, accepting personal payment from third parties for services performed by WKU or using WKU funds to purchase flights and other vacation accommodations for family members or friends, according to the “Fraud Issue” of the WKU Office of Internal Audit Newsletter.

Reece said that in the presentation, she talks about “internal controls” that can help prevent fraud, which include “segregation of duties, where not one person has one process from beginning to end” and “manager review of expenses.”

“That’s where people on campus have the most power in preventing fraud, and they probably a lot of times don’t realize it,” Reece said, regarding the internal controls.

Reece said setting an ethical culture is one of the most important internal controls that can help prevent fraud.

“We meet with department heads and directors on campus and talk to them about how important it is that they set an ethical culture in their department because the people that report to them are looking at them as a role model,” Reece said. “If the department head themselves or director, if they don’t follow policies, then the people that report to them are less likely to follow policies.”

Reece said they have done a few presentations so far. She said they have done the presentation with “budget managers across campus for the academic departments” and for office personnel and department heads in the College of Health and Human Services. Reece said there are between four and six presentations coming up in the next six months.

“We want them to know that we’re here as a resource to them to help them investigate any kind of issues and make sure that we’re all practicing fiscal responsibility and being responsible with public funds,” Reece said.

 

News reporter Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow Nicole Ziege on Twitter at @NicoleZiege.