Find the Thief in Your Business with a Private Investigator

Find the Thief in Your Business with a Private Investigator

A private investigator can identify employee fraud and thief in your workforce, eliminating future threats while maintaining objectivity.

Despite the ability of a business to flourish in any economy, every company is still vulnerable to the possibility of employee theft or fraud. Like a frog in a boiling pot, sometimes companies can be taken by surprise when the theft has gradually grown over a period of time, and no one is the wiser until the business takes an unexpected financial hit. Companies can protect themselves from these frauds with costly in-house investigations into the crime, but a private investigator can go a long way towards identifying all perpetrators, no matter how high up the chain of command it goes.

Recent statistics from several government agencies who supervise finances and labor estimate theft committed annually by employees reaches an excess of $50 billion. Even an isolated incident can blanket a company in a crisis and leave them clawing out of the depths of bankruptcy. It starts with small things, such as taking office supplies for personal use. When this action goes unchecked, the employee might begin taking from petty cash without authorization. The level of the theft will always ratchet up the longer the thief goes undetected.

When an investigator attempts to identify employee fraud is knowing what to look for. Elliot Rysenbry of Trustify says there are six warning signs of employee theft for which Human Resources should be vigilant.

  • Workaholics
    • Behaviors of people who might be very dedicated to their jobs are also characteristic of people who might be stealing from your business. People who are always working long hours and never take a vacation. This “dedication” is a front for superiors. People who are stealing via their position do not want to be absent from the workplace for fear a temporary replacement might notice inconsistencies that could indicate fraud.
  • Hyper-vigilance of connections
    • When an employee has a close personal connection/relationship with any vendor or associated financial institution, it’s usually not cause for concern of impropriety. However, hyper-vigilance or strong protection of those relationships, it’s possible there’s something in the business arrangement for this employee. One of the most common names for this kind of fraudulent arrangement is “kickbacks” or getting a cut of the profits vendors or financial institutions receive from a thieving employee.
  • Inflated expenses
    • This is one of the most common types of theft committed in the workplace. Line items on expense reports are either inflated or fabricated entirely in order to pad the thief’s pocket.
  • Extravagances
    • Payroll knows what individual employees make week to week, so when there are unexplained extravagences in an employee’s life, such as a flashy new car, it’s important HR keep an eye on said employee.
  • Frequent small transactions
    • Taking from petty cash in small amounts can add up quickly, and is often a sign of more serious, larger-scale fraud being committed within the company.
  • Entitlement
    • Employees who feel as though they are underpaid or undervalued at their company are also plausible perpetrators of theft. Whether as a motive or a rationalization, they feel as if what they stole was deserved payment.

While theft can be an extremely toxic element in any work environment, one of the ways to exacerbate it is by conducting a poor internal investigation. Human Resource employees are unsung heroes of companies and businesses, as they are one of the crucial gatekeepers with control over the quality of employees. Not only are they very busy individuals, but they might not be the most objective persons to conduct an internal investigation.

Sometimes a lack of experience with investigations will cause a member of HR to make false or unprepared accusations about the guilt of a particular employee. If this employee is unimpeachable, the company can open itself up to lawsuits and bad press. Even if HR is not conducting the investigation, most employees are not trained investigators and might conduct an inquiry in an illegal manner that could also open the business up to litigation. Sometimes a pay cut for an employee suspected of stealing might seem like a quick and quiet way to resolve these issues, but legal counsel should always be consulted before making these decisions. By the same token, hasty termination of these employees to avoid a messy investigation should always involve the opinion of a legal expert—all in the name of protecting the country from plausible legal trouble.

The simple answer to avoiding all of the aforementioned ways to inflame an internal theft investigation is to retain the services of a private investigator. Private investigators can save companies from themselves in terms of opening themselves up to litigation or bad press. Private investigators have more skill and experience in these areas preventing investigations from blowing up in a negative manner. They are independent contractors, therefore, do not have a dog in the race when it comes to identifying the culprit of the theft. Their objectivity will be crucial, especially if the theft within the company goes all the way to the executive level. Because of their authority over employees, CEOs of companies might often get a soft front from HR or other investigative bodies within the business. Private investigators—being unknown to other employees in the business—can also conduct undercover operations to yield truthful and unbiased results. The private investigator, along with business counsel, can also advise Human Resource departments how to proceed once the culprit has been identified. Whatever the specific needs of a company, always consider hiring a private investigator to conduct internal investigations in order to protect and enhance the longevity of your business.

Identify employee fraud and theft today with Lauth Investigations International. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at our website for a free quote.

Fox News Ordered to Pay $1 Million in Penalties Following Workplace Culture Investigation

Fox News Ordered to Pay $1 Million in Penalties Following Workplace Culture Investigation

The media and financial worlds saw the grueling impact of poor workplace culture this week as media giant Fox News has finally agreed to pay $1 million in penalties after a workplace culture investigation concluded following allegations of sexual misconduct within the network. The allegations ended in the departure of Fox’s co-founded Roger Ailes, and anchor, Billy O’Reilly. The chairperson and commission for the New York City Commission on Human Rights, Carmelyn P. Malalis, stated in an interview on Tuesday, “This is the largest civil penalty that has ever been levied by the City Commission on Human Rights. We need to send a message in order to deter future acts of harassment or retaliation.”

Part of the success of the settlement is the clause that prevents Fox News from requiring confidential arbitration in cases where an employee files a complaint under the Human Rights Law. This action prevents Fox News from privately hashing out the legalities of such complaints behind closed doors with little to no public accountability, giving the corporate culture little to no reason for change. Corporations, especially highly visible ones like those resembling Fox News, must have the oversight in place to ensure problems like sexual harassment allegations do not have the consequential chance to gut the company from within. With an appropriate structure in place, a workplace culture investigation can draw problems like employee misconduct out into the open as if drawing poison from a wound.

Stories like the one about Fox and their workplace culture investigation are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, seeking a workplace culture investigation in order to excise malignant sources of disruption from your company’s daily operations is an investment in the longevity of the company. Employers who are vigilant about their workplace culture can expect to see an increase in productivity as employees become more engaged in their jobs as the result of healthy corporate culture. However, it’s headlines like the ones associated with the Fox settlement that also have employers recoiling at the idea of a workplace culture investigation. After all, the investigation could very easily turn up problems that will continue to cost the company time and money in correcting. Employers may be expected to pay out large sums in court as the result of any subsequent legal action, and the bad press associated with workplace culture investigations are undesirable in the corporate world. However, the longer corporations and employers ignore the issues surrounding workplace culture, the more devastating they can expect the impact will be once the problem is forced into the open through circumstances such as whistle-blowing, criminal investigations, or involvement from another state or federal entity. In the case of Fox, the fallout from sexual harassment allegations should have come as no surprise to internal staff who have fielded these allegations over and over again. In any case however, the hope that the publicity of a workplace culture investigation will once and for all force the company to overhaul their culture and improve the lives of their employees and the longevity of their company.

If you have need of a workplace culture investigation, consider Lauth Investigations International for your needs. We are staffed by former military and law enforcement personnel with diverse experience in workplace culture investigations. We carry a glowing A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and regularly receive grateful reviews from out clients. Call 317-951-1100 for a free consultation or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com

FMLA Abuse Investigations: Hiring the Right Investigator

FMLA Abuse Investigations: Hiring the Right Investigator

The Family and Medical Leave Act is supposed to give employees the ability to attend to personal or family matters like recovering from surgery or caring for an infirm family member without the fear of losing their job. However, the same legislation meant to protect employees can also be exploited by employee misconduct. Regardless of whether or not an employee is abusing FMLA, the employer’s burden of proof is dependent on establishing the quality of FMLA abuse investigations into the claim.

Because of the complex, contentious nature of an FMLA abuse investigations, some employers are shy or negligent about performing due-diligence. It’s true that hiring a professional to conduct a comprehensive FMLA abuse investigation can be a very expensive endeavor that many employers would rather skip and rely on their own investigating to determine whether or not there is cause to terminate the employee. However, this is incredibly short-sighted, and can result in very negative consequences for the employer.

For example, in one scenario, an employee submitted a request for FMLA leave in order to address their inability to meet hourly fulfillment quotas because of their bad knee. Choosing to skip the professional FMLA abuse investigation, the employer got online and found the employee’s social media pages—a source commonly used in FMLA abuse investigations. The employer observed the employee dancing in a video posted to their profile. The employer closes the case, determining that the employee’s FMLA claim was fraudulent. After all, if they’re able to dance, they should be able to make fulfillment requirements.

However, imagine the shock the employer received when the court upheld the employee’s FMLA claim in subsequent court action when the judge ruled that the employer was negligent in comprehensively investigating the claim. The employer was not able to provide proof that they had conducted a field investigation, nor had they consulted a medical expert regarding the employee’s injuries. Thus, the court ruled in the employee’s favor, and was awarded damages. This is why it’s always imperative to hire a professional for FMLA abuse investigations in order to ensure that no stone is left unturned and the employer can remain above reproach in any subsequent legal action.

Hiring a private investigator for FMLA abuse investigations also means you get the benefit of due-diligence in field investigations. In cases where the employee is suspected of faking an injury, you’ll need an investigator who knows how to hide in plain sight. Private investigators can conduct field surveillance in which they locate the employee at home or in the field and begin documenting their movements for the client. These surveillance operations can answer vital questions pertaining to the employee’s level of mobility, how much assistance they require with basic tasks, and whether or not they are behaving reasonably within the parameters of their alleged injury. Private investigators can take video, still shots, and write case narratives on what they observed during the field surveillance and compile this into a report for the employer. In another scenario, an employee who has submitted a request for FMLA leave claiming to need time to recover from surgery on his back. However, when the private investigator stakes out the home of the employee, they observe the employee carrying items to and from his pickup truck—items like lumber, power tools, and paint cans—too heavy to lift for someone who would be recovering from back surgery. The private investigator documents this with photographs and includes his observations in his final report.

Unlike employers, private investigators have access to a wealth of information through their licensure through the state. Employers are restricted to only the information in the employee’s personnel file and their application for hire. Using only a few key pieces of information, private investigators can have a subject’s entire history at their fingertips, including criminal history, job history, and address history. Private investigators also know how to comb local databases for any information pertaining to the subject. In one case, an employee claimed to need FMLA leave in order to care for his sick mother—approximately six weeks. The employer became suspicious when the employee never arrived to pick up the last check before the start of his leave. The employer hired a private investigator for an FMLA abuse investigation. The private investigator located the employee’s mother’s address, and after staking out the home for a period of days, determined that the employee was not assisting the mother in the home as they had claimed. Instead, after checking local jails, the private investigator was able to determine that a subject with the same name and birthday as they employee was serving a 6-week jail sentence and using FMLA to conceal this fact.

No matter what the specific circumstances of an FMLA abuse investigation, a private investigator is an ideal professional to carry out the operation. They are adept at hiding in plain sight and concealing their efforts to document fraudulent behavior by employees who have asserted their need for FMLA leave. Protect your business from this employee misconduct by calling Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our FMLA abuse investigation services at 317-951-1100, or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com.

This is how a corporate investigator can stop fraud, theft, and other problems in your company

This is how a corporate investigator can stop fraud, theft, and other problems in your company

internal investigation

In the interest of due-diligence with an internal investigation, thousands of documents must be reviewed, processed, and itemized. Internal processes must be reviewed and evaluated by an internal investigator. It may be necessary to interview employees regarding their knowledge of the matter—those accounts must be cataloged, transcribed, and placed in context within the investigation. In addition to the tangible resources that are expended during the investigation, there’s hundreds of hours of labor hours that must be invoiced and paid out. The Fulbright Litigation Trends Survey presented data that indicated internal investigation costs were already on the rise back in 2011. Excluding the cost of settlements and judgements, they reported a median spend with American corporations of $1.4 million. Almost a quarter of those businesses reporting spent an excess of $5 million or more regarding internal complaints. For large companies with a wealth of resources, $5 million may seem like a drop in the bucket, but there are many smaller businesses who could easily be bankrupted by such a price tag. Those same companies also do not have the budget to maintain a specialized internal investigations team to address internal complaints when they arise.

There is a wide variety of events that could trigger a corporate investigation. Perhaps an employee files a sexual harassment complaint against another. Perhaps a whistleblower brings attention to a pervasive internal problem. Whatever the cause, it’s up to leadership within the corporation or organization to ensure that the problem is addressed. While some entities have the budget for an internal investigation team, the investigation itself still places a strain on a business and its resources.

Private investigators are the perfect professionals to conduct your corporation’s culture audit for a number of reasons. Just to name a few, private investigators have similar skill sets to investigators who work in risk assessment, can conduct internal investigations without disruption, and can offer you a more customizable program that will fit your business.

Private investigators build successful practices because they have a detailed eye for human behavior. When it comes to private investigation, it’s not always just about what a subject is doing, but also why they’re doing it. Because they have a wealth of experience in rationalizing and predicting human behavior, private investigators might have an edge over traditional corporate culture audits performed by risk assessment investigators. What we know about the cycle of corporate culture indicates that there is a cause/effect relationship between an employee’s level of engagement and how successful the company or organization is in their internal operations. We also know that an organization’s structure can directly affect how engaged employees are. This is why private investigators are so invaluable. They can look at characteristics of the workforce on paper and in real life to assess how employees feed into the current cycle of corporate culture.

Risk assessment firms specialize in internal investigation, but too often, leadership will neglect undergoing an audit because they believe that it will be too much a daily disruption to internal operations. By virtue of their profession, private investigators excel at blending in to their environment, whether it’s in a busy street, or a quiet library. Whatever the nature of their investigation, private investigators know how to conduct their due-diligence without drawing attention to themselves or others. This skillset is especially valuable if leadership wishes to conduct a covert internal investigation. After all, people behave the most naturally when they believe they aren’t being watched. In this way, private investigators can infiltrate businesses and obtain necessary information without piquing the curiosity or suspicion of current employees.

Another hallmark of a private investigation’s profession is their flexibility and autonomy. Sometimes private investigators can very quickly pick up leads that other investigators cannot because they have autonomy other types of investigators do not. This flexibility gives private investigators the ability to customize any corporate culture audit program to fit your business’s needs. Some companies may be small, but do not have the traditional structure of a brick-and-mortar business. Other companies might be large, but have a workforce where millennials dominate the majority. This is where a private investigator’s diverse experience can allow them to identify the problems and prioritize the most prevalent problems to right the ship of corporate culture.

If your business or organization needs a corporate culture audit, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our corporate culture audit program. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, 5-star ratings with Google, and we are staffed by former military and law enforcement personnel. Call 317-951-1100, or find us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com

Top Corporate Investigation Issues: Knowing When to Hire a Private Investigator

Top Corporate Investigation Issues: Knowing When to Hire a Private Investigator

Independent corporate investigations are an investment in their companies. It’s not hard to understand why a corporation would want to minimize the impact of a corporate crisis. Corporate crises come in many forms, and all of them have undeniable effects on the workplace, corporate culture, and the bottom line. That’s why employers must be vigilant of problems within their workplaces, address those problems with independent corporate investigations, and foster an environment where there is an open dialogue to address pervasive issues within the workplace.

Ignoring a corporate crisis will not ensure the problem will go away. The idea of “letting it blow over,” does not guarantee the problem will not occur again. Pervasive, repeated patterns of corporate crises are indicative of a deeper error in the company’s operations. Only by addressing the root of these issues can a company hope to avoid these problems from repeating in the future. Many companies do have shareholders and other interests to protect, but ultimately, the issue must be addressed in order to avoid further losses. That’s why it’s crucial for employers to know when it’s time to hire a private investigator for their corporate investigation.

Bribery

There are many reasons bribery may occur within a business. Perhaps an employee is offering cash to an inspector to buy their silence on certain violations on their worksite. The same could be said of an employee who bribes a government representative in exchange for the same discretion. If not exposed, not only can this cause infinite negative ripple effects within the corporation, but if caught, the parties responsible can incur costly penalties, and possible prosecution. In order to prevent these losses, both financial and in public relations, employers must trigger a corporate investigation.

Security

A break-in, or other theft from the workplace should not be treated as an isolated incident. It’s imperative that a corporate investigation can be triggered so the void in security operations can be filled and prevent further losses. If the corporation’s security system requires and update, or if perimeter fences need to be reinforced, those items must be addressed. Thieves will continue to slip through the cracks if they’re not properly patched.

White Collar Crime

White collar crime specifically refers to when crimes like bribery and theft occur at an executive level, denoting the perpetrator’s level of access and perceived credibility within the company. They are elevated crimes and have some of the strongest potential to devastate a company or organization. White collar crime can be tricky to investigate, as most procedures for investigating misconduct would likely come across the executive’s desk. That’s why employers should consider the discretion of a private investigator for this type of corporate investigation.

Cybersecurity

When there is a breach in your company’s cybersecurity, there must be swift and competent intervention. Your company’s webmasters and I.T. professionals work hard, and there are going to be breaches that they do not know how to address, either due to the sophistication of the breach, or their limited experience with certain types of breaches. When a hacker can invade your company’s website or intranet, those are major patches that must take place as soon as possible. Think of a breach like a wound, and from that open wound, the corporation can continue to leak data, industry secrets, or actual profits. Your corporate investigation must include an investigator with a diverse discipline who can answer crucial questions about the breach—the who, why, and how of the breach, and whether or not the threat is still present and ongoing, or if there has been a proverbial “smash and grab” of the intranet. Skilled investigators will have the appropriate tools and methodology to address these issues and get employers the answers they need.

Harassment

Repeated instances of discrimination or sexual harassment are systemic issues that must be addressed in order to prevent costly turnover, training, and decline in corporate culture. Discrimination and harassment not only have internal costs, but can wind up costing the company thousands in legal fees and potentially millions in settlement money if patterns of abuse can be proven in civil court. Discrimination and harassment also have a disastrous effect on workplace culture as targets of the abuse become fearful or uncomfortable in their jobs and the perpetrators continue the same cycle of abuse that causes losses in turnover and loss of employee engagement. Patterns of abuse like this demand a corporate investigation, not only for the sake of the bottom line, but also for the individuals involved.

Knowledge of Imminent State or Federal Investigation

Upon receipt of a federal subpoena or other indication that there will be an investigation into your business by a government entity, many employers find it prudent to get out ahead of the bureaucratic red tape and get a comprehensive picture of what the government is likely to find. This can lead to prescient legal or public relations strategies that may go a long way in remedying the situation. A corporate investigation into the internal staff, operations, and policies can prepare you for what the investigating agency may find when they comb through the corporation.

Fraud

Fraud can occur at any level of the employment structure, from entry-level positions all the way up to executives. The strategy for approaching a corporate investigation concerning fraud should change depending on the scope of the fraud and the culprit. This means hiring a corporate investigator with a sophisticated understanding of fraud investigations and how to document the evidence in those cases. Without clear answers and professional solutions to fraud, employers simply don’t know what they don’t know. The act of contracting an independent third party to investigate also makes it more difficult for the perpetrator to cover up their actions.

Legal Action

When facing a civil, criminal, or commercial court case, corporations must apply the same methodology when reacting to an impending investigation by a government body. Independent internal corporate investigations not only provide a veneer of transparency by the corporation in question, but also provides them with an idea of what the plaintiff in the case could conceivably find and use against the defendant in court.  This prevents the corporation from being blindsided in an already litigious situation. The more information the corporation has, the better prepared it will be to defend itself.

Whistleblowers

Whistleblowers are every company’s worst nightmare, because not all corporations have operations in place for the contingency of a whistleblower. Thus, when an employee comes forward about misconduct or another internal matter to the press, the fallout can be embarrassing and devastating to the company. Corporate investigations into whistleblowing claims are good-faith efforts to address the concerns raised by the whistleblower in an objective manner. Hiring a private investigator for this corporate investigation can also be a sign of transparency on behalf of the corporation. Comprehensive corporate investigations can also shed light on other issues that might have otherwise been subjected to whistleblowing. Leadership can swiftly intervene and address any problems that might be occurring within their business or organization.

Knowing when to trigger a corporate investigation can be half the battle. Trust your instincts, and remember that it’s better to be prudent than proud when it comes to your corporate crisis. If you’re in need of a corporate investigation, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free consultation on our corporate investigation services. Call 317-951-1100 today or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com.