Friday, April 18, 2014

Arrests Continue Against Condo/HOA Leaders for Fraud or Theft

Arrests Continue Against Condo/HOA Leaders for Fraud or Theft 

Courtesy of SunSentinal; Condos and HOA, Living with Rules Blog

Arrests continue against condo/HOA leaders for fraud or theft

The story about the arrest of the former acting president of a homeowners’ association in Sunrise, Florida prompted me to remind community leaders of the most common fraud techniques.
Fraud and theft in community associations seem to have risen exponentially in recent years. In many cases the fraud occurred over a period of several years and it is just being discovered now. In the recent case reported in the Sun-Sentinel, funds were allegedly transferred directly from the association’s account to former acting president’s personal accounts. Typically the methods utilized are not that obvious, so do you know what to look for?
Some common fraudulent activities include:
  • Theft of cash receipts
  • Under-the-table payments, bribes or kickbacks.
    • Pay & Return – The employee purposely overpays a vendor. When the vendor returns the overpayment, the employee embezzles the refund.
    • Kickbacks – The vendor gives the manager money in return for awarding a contract to the vendor or an inflated check is delivered to the vendor and they split the overpayment.
  • Tampering with checks issued (forged signatures, altered dates, adjusted amounts)
  • Stealing blank checks or counterfeiting duplicate checks with altered payees
  • Creating and paying fictitious vendors
    • Shell Company – An employee sets up a shell company (often with a fictitious name) and bills the employer for goods or services it does not receive. The employee converts the payment to his/her benefit.
    • Pass-Through Scheme – A shell company (owned by the employee) purchases goods and resells them to the employer at a marked-up price.
  • Creating inflated or phony expense vouchers
  • Theft of inventory
  • Altering purchasing, receiving or shipment records
  • Paying non-existent employees
  • Lapping – This involves the manipulation of accounts receivable to steal cash. One payment is taken and then other receivables are applied to the account – the process continues so all accounts would appear current.
  • Voiding checks – the employee writes a check to a vendor for a certain amount, but records the payment as higher in the books. Then the next check is written for the difference and entered as a void. When the bank statement arrives the checks are destroyed and the account is reconciled as if one payment was made for the higher amount.
  • Credit card usage and credit card refunds – using the credit cards for personal expenditures or purchasing and returning items, then using the credit for personal expenditures.
These are just some of the examples of the types of fraud encountered by community associations. Of course, establishing (and complying with) internal controls is paramount in order to prevent fraud and to detect it before losses escalate.

Has the Association gained or lost?  Look around and the answer becomes obvious.  If this Association allowed us to look closer (like allowing full access to the official records, bank statements, and invoices) then it will become even more obvious.  

Happy Holidays.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for posting. Please visit and share often.