Bar Humbug – 12 ways your Staff can Steal from you (and how to Prevent them)

I do believe that most people are good and want to do a good job.  But a few bad ones can make your life hell.  Make 2015 a good year by ensuring your staff don’t steal from you.   You can never know 100% you are fraud free.  When a fraud is found the accountants and few others get to hear about it.  Here are my top 12 thefts:


  1. Stealing business property.  Check your culture.  It starts with stamps for personal use or a bit of stationery, I never take them myself because I know the example it gives.  Zero tolerance.
  2. Taking cash.
  3. Getting suppliers to give things that are personally useful (an extension?).
  4. False invoices paid into the employees account.
  5. Teeming and lading.  Getting a customer to pay the staff member personally then using the next receipt to clear the invoice.
  6. I’ve seen employees take pictures, fine art, off the walls.
  7. Stealing customers.
  8. Doing business created by your marketing of their own account.
  9. Set up fake employees and the staff member gets paid twice.
  10. Changing the payee on a cheque.
  11. False supplier account – cash paid to employee.
  12. False credit notes where the staff member gets the repayment.


The list could of course be longer, human ingenuity is incredible.


So what to do to stop it?


Do not believe employees are or treat them as family members.  I have seen an employee stand by the owner in a shop for 15 years, go to weddings, know each other family, BUT quietly to be stealing.

Watch the lifestyle of employees.  Very few people are just plain bad, most people steal to feed an addiction (gambling, drugs, spending) or in desperation or just because you are just not checking anything and it’s too easy.  Do consider if an employee is living beyond their means.


So what to do?


Yes.  Check what you are spending money on, do not give them unresticted access (or passwords).

Yes.  Do management accounts so you can track trends.

Yes.  Take a real interest in your accounts and look into things especially if you are being ‘fobbed off’.

Yes.  Make sure they take two weeks holiday a year and get someone else to do their job.

Yes.  Understand your profitability, the better you know your numbers the less likely to have fraud.

Yes.  Be nice to your book keeper, unhappy staff are more prone to steal as a form of empowerment.

Yes.  Have a stable team and consistent practices.

Yes.  Do proper control account reconciliations each month.


Let me know if you want me to discuss your controls.


(Oh and happy Christmas!)