How to Spot Financial Fraud
Financial scams are circumstances in which the lawful and moral controlling of fiscal assets does not take place. In several nations all over the globe, this kind of fraud transpires because of the thoughtful choices and activities made by individuals who manage cash and other resources on behalf of bosses or customers. Such an activity where dishonest management of financial assets occurs would result in considerable losses for the financier or business. UK government statistics by the FSA suggest that such charlatans victimize about 28 Million people every year costing them a total of GBP 1 billion vanishes. It won’t be wise to assume that you can never be fooled.
Financial Statement scams though most sporadic are gaining more and more attention by public business administrators. What follows is in summary a list that would help these public company managers know when to sound the alarms and start questioning.
Below are some of the basic ways that management tries to scam investors. I can write a book on this, and in fact there are many good books on the topic; however this article will be brief in nature:
Revenue Exaggeration: reporting inflated figures in income statements is one of the common types of frauds. Such a scam can be brought about by a number of schemes. Documenting gross rather than Net figures, false sales, realizing future sales or consignments. Such schemes can be identified by looking for anomalies such as having recorded increase in revenues without any supporting increase in cash flow. Strong development when similar companies are experiencing weak sales. In such cases enquiries and comparisons can be asked for along with justifications.
The other side of the coin: Understating expenses also is another way that financial fraud can occur. This can be possible by documenting cost of sales as a non-operating expense so that gross margin is not affected. Other ways include not reporting expense at all. These can be detected by keeping your eyes open for signs such as the increase in sales, contrary to industry trends, a baffling increase in fixed assets and an unusual increase in sales returns. Analysis comparing competitors and their net income for the period along with explanations regarding the increase in fixed assets.
Incorrect asset evaluations: Miss-Handling of reserves, changing the useful lives of assets, refusing to have an asset write down when required are some of the ways assets can be incorrectly valued. Red flags can be raised when noteworthy deteriorations in consumer demand and swelling business disappointments in both the industry and the general economy are seen. In such cases an enquiry into how is the general economy disturbing consumer demand and trade? Deteriorations in both could be a indication that there might be an asset weakening issue linking inventory or payment stashes.
Other ways fraud may occur is when information is divulged incorrectly, particularly regarding related-party dealings and credits to executives.
Even though red flags virtually constantly go together with fraud, many fiscal misstatements are either informed too late to avert major harm or are not stated at all. Occasionally, late or no recording happens because managers are not paying close consideration, but now and then it is because they are too frightened or not well-informed enough about deceitful conduct, to act. This can be the consequence of not wanting to distinguish the facts. But every so often, it is a result of not trusting one’s verdict or acumen.