Safeguarding Your Workplace: Strategies to Prevent Theft and Fraud.

Safeguarding Your Workplace: Strategies to Prevent Theft and Fraud.

Safeguarding Your Workplace: Strategies to Prevent Theft and Fraud.

In today’s hyperconnected world, safeguarding your business from pervasive workplace theft and fraud is inevitable, and demands a multifaceted approach. Enterprises are increasingly grappling with the metamorphosis of criminal tactics and the advancement of technology. These trends are a danger to any surviving business and require well-thought-out approaches to mitigate losses. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), organizations lose about 5% of their total revenue through fraud, which amounts to trillion dollars annually. This loss goes beyond financial, to damage of trust by customers, dented reputation, and legal ramifications.

To ensure your workplace is protected from these threats, it is paramount to institute solid strategies that address vulnerabilities across the business- policies, employee awareness, organization culture, and policies. Let’s delve into methods that you can employ to prevent theft and fraud in your industry.

Establishing a Culture of Integrity

It is essential to understand that a business is as good as its employees. This means that if the workforce is morally corrupted, this is reflected in your business, and the chances of making losses are high. Cultivating a culture of integrity is the foundation of dealing with fraud, and this has been supported by past research showing that institutions with high integrity culture experience less fraud. Does this resonate with you? Well, let’s look at the case of Wells Fargo, a financial institution embroiled in a scandal of fraudulent account openings. Due to the aggressive sales culture of the company, it incentivized employees to achieve unrealistic targets. This misconduct of wanting to achieve short-term gains damaged the company’s reputation.

A simple act of failing to act ethically can ruin your years of investment, a pitfall that businesses should avoid. This can happen by supporting workforce accountability, transparency, and honesty. As a human resource director, you are responsible for encouraging an open form of communication where employees can report any theft or fraudulent activities without fear. For you to effectively implement these, it is essential that you understand the nature of your corporate culture, and Lauth has seasoned experts in conducting corporate culture audits. We will ensure that the findings of the audit capture the weaknesses and provide workable recommendations.

Conducting Thorough Background Checks

“Trust but verify.” This adage should prevail when hiring new employees. Conducting a thorough background check is vital in identifying the red flags and mitigating the risk. The data released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) alludes that about one-third of job applicants provide false information on their resumes. This should scare you as a human resource director. Consider the Enron Energy Company case, deemed one of the heinous accounting frauds in history that led to its demise. If the company had conducted proper background checks on the executive, they might have uncovered the unethical behavior.

Background checks at the workplace

The rule of thumb is a background check is essential to prevent internal fraud and theft, which could potentially cripple your business. Most human resource directors need to pay more attention to this stage, as it is perceived to waste time. It’s understandable, but we must find a way to dispel the fact that such a process can be outsourced. Our private investigators are experienced in conducting comprehensive background checks and providing objective details that would save your company in the future.

Implementing Stringent Access Controls

We must uphold the importance of securing business’s information and critical data. Insider threats account for a high percentage of fraud incidents, emphasizing the significance of having strong access control. To avoid data breaches, it is imperative to implement pin codes, biometric scanners, and keycards since they are important tools for identifying and monitoring the activities of employees within the place of work.

Are all these stringent measures effective? The answer to this question might differ depending on whether your business has experienced a case of fraud or theft. However, it has been proven that establishing access control at the cash office prevents theft. This is because all log trails are left behind, and any theft can be traced to a specific employee. You need to know the source to mitigate. That’s why the fraud investigation service is elemental for your company.

Implementing Surveillance and Monitoring Systems

Deploying surveillance cameras and monitoring systems could be a step towards mitigating theft and fraud in the workplace. While it might intimidate the workers, it is a security awareness strategy. The study conducted by the University of North Carolina showed that cameras reduce theft and fraud by 51%. For example, in the retail sector, video analytics software can detect activities such as shoplifting and provide real-time information to security personnel to act. Now that our most excellent tool at Lauth is risk assessment, we can offer guidelines on where you could be missing regarding surveillance and monitoring. Secure your investment!


Safeguarding your business against theft and fraud needs a comprehensive approach, requiring you to examine your organization’s culture, existing policies, available technology, and employees’ awareness. Organizations can curb theft and fraud by implementing a culture of integrity, conducting background checks, implementing access control, and ensuring surveillance and monitoring systems. These protect your reputation and assets and uphold the culture of accountability. Lauth’s investigative services chip in to supplement your organization’s operational safety.

These Latest Cutting Edge Tech Devices Can Help Prevent Personal Art and Jewelry Theft

These Latest Cutting Edge Tech Devices Can Help Prevent Personal Art and Jewelry Theft

Historically, it’s been a challenge to prevent art theft even when the security of the most famous creations in the world hung in the balance. When Vincent van Gogh’s painting of poppy flowers was stolen in 1977, right out of the Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Egypt, nobody could have imagined that it would be recovered in Kuwait a decade later, and then stolen once again from it’s Cairo home in 2010. 

The mind marvels in a similar way at the failure to prevent jewelry theft by the infamous Pink Panther gang, who have made off with roughly $US1 billion in sparkling European treasures over the course of the last four decades.

But technology is finally catching up with these bad actors, making it more difficult than ever for them to traffic their loot and evade capture. Only last year, Interpol caught up with and arrested Pink Panther gang members in Spain, ensuring a sigh of relief among jewelry dealers across the continent. 

But the advent of new tech doesn’t just mean greater capability in tracking and locating stolen goods and perpetrators. It also means far greater capacity to protect our most prized and valuable assets in the first place. Check out this exciting tech, accessible to collectors everywhere, and created to prevent art theft and jewelry theft for good.Collectors Prevent Jewelry Theft and Art Theft with Tiny Tracking Devices
These days, a heist like the one carried out in Cairo—twice—would be a far riskier endeavor for the criminals thanks to the introduction of cutting-edge tracking devices, designed to be used to tag a broad range of valuables. 

These minuscule gadgets are so small that they can be hidden permanently in paintings and sculptures to prevent art theft, or inserted invisibly into cases to prevent jewelry theft. Thanks to discreet design, potential thieves are none the wiser. Although, as word gets out that there’s no clean getaway with precious one-of-a-kind assets of this nature, even the most determined racketeers pause for thought.

So how do these tiny trackers work, exactly? Costing only a tiny fraction of the value of the incredible creations they have been designed to protect, tracking devices work either using GPS location or long-range, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)—or a combination of the two. This tech innovation means that masterpieces can not only be tracked in realtime, but that collectors, museums, and gallery owners can establish user defined perimeters and set up automatic alerts, either to themselves or the police, if the art or jewelry in question crosses over their threshold. Clever tech indeed.

It’s Never Been Easier to Prevent Jewelry Theft and Art Theft—or Catch the Criminals at Large 

This exciting evolution in the effort to prevent art theft and safeguard our most precious jewels is only a small part of a much larger expansion of protective possibility. Improved home security systems and the advent of INTERPOL’s Stolen Works of Art database are also contributing to shrinking the prospects of potential thieves. 

Even the smartphones of criminals themselves are working against them, as geolocation data is pulled from images taken to sell art and jewelry online, and police or private investigators track them down when they thought they’d got away clean.

Are you doing all you can to prevent jewelry theft and art theft? Your most prized assets represent not only significant monetary value, but sentimental value too. Skilled and specialized private investigators from Lauth Investigations International are always on hand to provide comprehensive risk and security assessments. We can identify vulnerabilities and help you close the door to criminals who might otherwise target your possessions. And of course, should the worst have already occurred, our team of investigative trackers are ready to locate and return your items. Whatever your concerns, reach out to our team today for no-commitment insight into how we can assist.

Employee Theft: A Symptom of Poor Corporate Culture

Regardless of the industry, all businesses should be vigilant with regards to employee theft. Employee theft can come in all shapes and sizes, from an administrative assistant pocketing some extra Post-Its to hardcore embezzlement on behalf of leadership. It can be easy to dismiss repeated instances of employee theft as isolated incidents, implementing disciplinary action or termination, and moving on with the work week. However, many executives and managers may not realize that repeated instances of employee theft could be indicative of a much larger problem in their corporation or organization.

From a position of leadership, it’s easy to dismiss a single instance of employee theft; the employee is the one who made a choice to steal from their company or organization, and that employee was wrong for doing so. Discipline or termination typically follows, and leadership walks away feeling confident that they’ve removed a bad apple from their barrel. However, pervasive issues with employee theft are symptomatic of a systematic problem within the business or organization that go beyond a single employee’s bad judgement.

Why do employees steal?

The three most common reasons employees steal are not very difficult to understand.

  • employees feel as though their employer has wronged them, or their compensation is inadequate.
  • employees believe that employers insure such losses—therefore it is a victimless crime.
  • employees know they will not be held accountable if they are caught

All of these reasons may characterize the employee as “disgruntled,” a term with a cultural context that often absolves the employer of any misconduct. When a corporation or organization has repeated instances of multiple employees committing theft, it’s a sign that the corporate culture of the workplace is less than healthy. A single employee pilfering staplers is not symptomatic of unhealthy corporate culture, but 5 employees pilfering staplers is a sign that employees do not feel valued, and therefore do not respect their employer.

The cycle of healthy corporate culture always begins with happy employees, because when employees are happy, they are more engaged, and contribute positively to the productivity of the organization. This pleases leadership, which incentivizes them to make decisions that raise morale, such as rewarding success with pay-raises, benefits, and thoughtful, constructive collaboration. The cycle begins anew with happy employees. Poor corporate culture means that undervalued employees will contribute negatively to workplace productivity. One of the ways poor corporate culture manifests is through employee theft—and it’s not just about profits or staplers. When employees are disengaged from their duties, they’re more likely to take extraneous breaks, or taking longer breaks than permitted, which is theft of company time. This often comes from a rationalized perspective, in which the employee does not feel their own time is valued within the organization, and therefore will place the same perceived value on company time.

Whatever the type of theft, repeated instances of employee theft cannot be ignored. It may be a sign that your business or organization needs a corporate culture audit. A corporate culture audit is like a check-up—when you go into the doctor for a standard check-up, they evaluate all of your major bodily functions for signs of disease or deterioration, and a corporate culture audit is no different. When investigators conduct a corporate culture audit, they evaluate all of your business’s internal operations, hiring processes, and principle employees for roadblocks that hinder productivity and contribute to poor corporate culture. The identification of these pervasive issues will lead to investigators providing leadership with expert recommendations to dislodge the blockage, allowing the cycle of corporate culture to right itself through cause and effect.

If you think your business or organization needs a corporate culture audit, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our Corporate Culture Audit program. For over 30 years, Lauth has been providing corporations with solutions to stimulate their business. In pursuit of truth, call 317-951-1100, or visit us online at

5 Cyber Security Measures Every Business Needs

5 Cyber Security Measures Every Business Needs

Cyber criminals are evolving at an alarming rate. Cyber-security product developers are on an infinite loop with felons, each trying to out fox the other with regards to data breaches. Security is absolutely necessary for brick and mortar establishments due to a myriad of reasons, but in 2019, the name of the game is cyber-security. Not only are data breaches an efficient way to steal trade secrets and financial information from businesses, but they can also be done remotely. A proficient hacker or scammer can access a company’s vital company information from halfway across the world, and from that same location, can devastate the company. Within minutes, they can access financial information, trade secrets, distribution and delivery schedules, and private customer information. To prevent this from happening to your business, here are 5 cyber security measures every business should have:

Iron-clad Passwords

This is Internet 101. Since the birth of the World Wide Web, we’ve been educating adults and children alike on the importance of having a strong password to access online accounts. Whether it’s a company’s financial information, or a Grubhub app on an executive’s phone, thieves can crack weak passwords to gain access. As such, it’s important passwords never contain personal information about an individual, especially if that information is visible on social media. Parents often include the name of their kids in their passwords, using their dates of birth for any numerical value requirement. Teens and young adults use the name of their favorite animal, sport, or music artist. Another common tactic is using common words that are easy to remember, and then spelling them backwards for a false sense of security. Experts at the National Cyber Security Alliance also do not recommend using sequences of characters that are near each other on the keyboard, such as “QWERTY,” the first six characters of the keyboard. The current recommended length for strong passwords is between 8-12 characters. If you’re unsure whether or not you password is secure, use an online password checker to verify the passwords level of  cyber security.

Fortified Firewalls

Firewalls have been around almost as long as passwords. Firewalls are shields that protect your business from harmful or insidious traffic. When you connect to the internet, the system is constantly communicating with the wireless network, both sending and receiving units of information known as packets. Firewalls monitor these packets and perform a risk assessment, blocking unsafe packets. These firewalls protect your company’s data from unauthorized remote access by criminals.

Antivirus Protection

Roland Cloutier, the Chief Security Officer for ADP, calls antivirus software “the last line of defense” when protecting your company’s data from hackers and other cyber-criminals. Not only can remote criminals access and view a company’s vital information, but they can also install vicious malware that will copy the target’s hard drive, and subsequently render the machine inoperable. Installing anti-virus and anti-malware programs aren’t enough, though. These programs need to be updated regularly as part of the infinite loop mentioned earlier. Every time a criminal finds a way to bypass an anti-malware product, the product requires changes to combat those breaches.

Laptops and Mobile Phones

It’s important to secure laptop computers and mobile smartphones associated with your business. For this, experts recommend encryption software so any remote felon attempting to access or copy the hard drive cannot do so without the proper password. They also stress the importance of never leaving these devices in ones vehicle, where they are easily accessible to thieves. “Lock-out” options are also standard for these devices in 2019. This setting allows you to establish a time period during which the phone lies idle. After that period expires, the phone locks itself, preventing anyone from accessing it without the password. Smartphones and laptops with remote-wipe features must be enabled. This way, if your device falls into the wrong hands, you can remotely wipe the device and prevent the leak of sensitive company information.

Employee Education

Last, but never least, it’s important your workforce is educated on the security measures in place and regularly enforces them on a day-to-day basis. Companies often neglect employee education under the false impression their IT team will be able to resolve all issues whenever they arise. The fact is, even IT professionals cannot anticipate every cyber threat, and may not be up-to-date on the very latest in cyber-criminal tactics. An ounce of this education is worth a pound of cure—Despite the level of technology literacy in the United States in 2019, an employer or business owner cannot assume an employee’s level of security knowledge. The prevention starts with employees, providing them with an intimate knowledge of company operations and how cyber security measures protect them. 

Regardless of your company’s industry or size, all businesses must update and maintain their cyber security. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when criminals can bypass cyber security, and devastate a company in minutes.

Phishers Want Your Direct-Deposit

Phishers Want Your Direct-Deposit

money lockedThe invention of direct-deposit payments in electronic banking have likely saved companies millions of dollars over the years in labor hours, materials, and fees that previously caused problems for companies. However, in an age where your paycheck is sent automatically to your checking account, phishers are seeking to exploit this automation for personal gain.

The Internal Revenue Service has reported an upswing in various types of fraud that directly target a company’s payroll. While the ruses come in many forms, one of the most popular is phishing emails disguised as legitimate correspondence from an employee or upper management. It’s always an instruction to alter payroll information so that funds would be rerouted to the scammer’s bank account. Once the deed is done, the money is withdrawn and the company is responsible to replace the missing funds. While the FTC and the IRS are constantly reevaluating their strategies for containing these types of fraud, this particular scheme is hard to detect and often goes unreported. The email can outsmart security measures set down by the company or within a company’s email server, and scammers take amounts that can just be written off as unfortunate missteps on behalf of personnel.

Frauds such as these have gone through an evolution as security technology becomes more sophisticated and what we know about internet culture continues to grow. Internet frauds used to be about volume and inattention to detail—thus the birth of phishers, who sent emails rife with spelling and grammar mistakes out to mile-long email lists, casting a wide net throughout the web. Education about fraud has forced scammers to be more cautious. Today, companies who have seen this scam in its newest form remark that these phishing emails look so authentic that there may not be a question in their mind before obliging their request. Security measures that have risen from the nucleus of electronic banking combat wire fraud every day in the United States. Large sums in wire transfers now throw up giant red flags. Phishers and scammers are getting more bang for their buck by taking smaller amounts with more frequency, lurking below the radar. This does not require sophisticated hacking skills. Just the ability to open a Gmail account. Phishers make the account look cosmetically convincing, then throw out the lure. One of the most targeted entities is non-profit organizations, because of the benevolent nature of their business. The idea of someone ripping off a charity or relief organization is horrifying, but the simplicity of scams like this make the opportunity too lucrative to pass up.

It’s frightening how simple the fraud is to pull off, but there is recourse for businesses who are vulnerable to such a scam. One of the non-profits who fell prey to this scam was KVC Health Systems, an agency for child welfare in Kansas City. Their IT director, Erik Nyberg, says it starts with comprehensive education on company procedures, “The CEO is never going to email you out of the blue and ask you for any deposit changes. And if you have any sliver of a doubt, call the person who is making the request.” He goes on to discourage executives and upper management employees from using their personal email accounts to send staff correspondence, and to set email filters that will catch suspicious incoming messages. Social media managers are also cautioned against posting any company information to their pages that could serve to bolster a phisher’s credibility.

If your business has been the target of this wire fraud scam, you are encouraged to report them to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s IC3 tip line.

On the Line: Exposing Theft in Manufacturing

On the Line: Exposing Theft in Manufacturing

On the Line: Exposing Theft in Manufacturing

When your business is in manufacturing, you are the steam engine on a locomotive of consumer progress. Product quality and efficiency start with you—producing the best results so the next link in the chain has a reasonable chance of success. This means hiring the best people to work in your plant is paramount to clearing the black. Human Resource departments dedicate themselves to recruiting the best of the best for their company, but even the most qualified and dependable candidates can give you ugly surprises with dishonest behavior, including malingering, fraud, and most significantly, theft.

All industries experience internal theft lowering their profits, but manufacturing is one of those most heavily affected. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) has reported in global industries, internal theft accounts for more than $3.7 million of eroded profits every year. The ACFE has determined, for manufacturing and production industries, the median loss is $194,000 per company.  There’s no short of manufacturing industries who suffer this loss, but to a thief, some are more lucrative than others. The top five manufacturing targets of thieves are pharmaceutical, metal, cargo, electronics, and cigarettes. The opioid crisis in the United States is not only responsible for millions of dollars of theft in pharmacies, but also in the plants where drugs are manufactured, or the warehouses where they are stored. Warehouse and plant workers often swipe units of electronics and fabrication materials for use in their own homes. These items can go for a small fortune on the street, or they can be resold on the black market to avoid being traced.

The larger the theft, the quicker it is noticed, but no company should have to wait for a large loss to implement prevention strategies. Any high-ranking employee or human resources employee can recognize the signs of internal theft, if they know where to look. For example, employees might report recent loss, or seeing product in unauthorized locations. Employees may be exhibiting suspicious behavior, like repeated rendezvous in the parking lot, or the surrounding area. Outlandish material possessions, such as new cars, designer shoes, and expensive jewelry, might suddenly be a regular part of the employee’s life. Low morale is one of the most common causes of internal theft, as employees who feel undervalued suddenly rationalize to themselves they deserve to take something from the company for their hard work and sacrifice.

manufacturing theftAs such, human resource departments are always reshaping their recruitment process to ensure they hire only quality individuals to be a part of their team. And this goes for all ranks within a workforce.  While a lower-level employee may not be noticed themselves, higher-level employees are the ones poised to cause significant loss to the company with their status and access to important company records. When everyone is a suspect, HR must implement procedures and methods of prevention that not only educate employees on the warning signs of theft, but also craft a culture that promotes honesty—if you see something, say something. These preemptive measures can be things like a comprehensive employee handbook, specific training to recognize signs of theft, effective security and monitoring systems, and a confidential tip line so that employees can report suspicious behavior without fear of reprisal. In manufacturing industries where groups of employees are assigned to their own sections, it’s important to have regular team meetings to maintain contact with the workforce so policies to protect the company can be reviewed and modified to improve and protect daily operations.

However, despite having a plethora of prevention methods in place, bad apples can still slip through the cracks of due diligence. When all attempts to handle a theft in-house have failed, there is still recourse. Many companies feel the need to handle all matters of theft internally, using teams of Human Resource employees or their own in-house investigator, but in-house operatives often lack the cohesive experience that comes from working in private investigations. The initial instinct might be to use an informal, in-house operative. Unfortunately, using an in-house operative has the potential to backfire quickly. If this investigator is known to the company’s workforce, their undercover efforts to sus out the culprit can be exposed easily, allowing the perpetrator to modify their methods, or disappear entirely before being identified. Poor investigations cannot only leave the perpetrator with an out, but can also exacerbate a workforce’s low morale, as employees become suspicious and paranoid.

Hiring a private investigator to investigate an internal theft has a wealth of benefits for business owners. Most obviously, an external, third-party investigator will be a fresh, unknown face to a company’s workforce. This “new blood” can freely move about the company inconspicuously. Their new hire status coupled with expertise in interviewing subjects will allow them to question other employees without suspicion. Private investigators also have a better chance of thoroughly investigating middle to higher management. As previously stated, these are the employees with the most access—able to alter inventory sheets and cost analyses. Over a period of time, a private investigator can hide in plain sight, keeping meticulous records on conversations and reporting surveillance findings that can be cataloged for any terminations resulting from the investigation.

manufacturing theftTerminations under messy circumstances like internal theft can often have legal repercussions, on both the side of the employer and employee. Companies may feel inclined to prosecute for the losses to the company, or an employee who feels they were wrongly terminated may sue. Internal investigators who have improperly handled an investigation can be the lynch pin that brings any legal proceedings to its knees. Improperly gathered evidence or illegal methods of fact-finding will compromise the company and their position in terminating the employee. Terminated employees can argue the company fired the wrong person in the interest of finding a solution, or argue the termination is vindictive action. However, an external operative like a private investigator has no stakes in the outcome of any investigation. Their only loyalty is to the truth, and as such, their investigation is dependent on facts, not company politics. Private investigators are impartial third-parties, which leaves very little room for a thief to argue wrongful-termination.

When producing a quality product, the integrity begins in manufacturing. Regardless of the type of product being manufactured, theft at this level of production is profitable to an organized thief—especially one who knows how to cover their tracks. Keeping the investigation in-house certainly has public relations benefits, but ultimately, one of the tenets of quality private investigations is confidentiality. Confidentiality between a private investigator and a company will allow them to deal with the theft discreetly, but thoroughly. Their third-party status means they have no dog in the fight, and their solution will stand up to the highest level of scrutiny.