Brittany Norwood, an employee at the Lululemon Athletica shop in Bethesda, was confronted by a co-worker about stolen merchandise in her bag. Norwood reacted by beating the co-worker to death and then trying to cover up the crime with an elaborate deception.
This incident highlights two issues that organizations are facing more and more in America: fraud and workplace violence. “The typical organization loses 5% of its annual revenue to fraud,” says Teresa Foster, Chief Financial Officer of BCI. “The most common fraud is asset misappropriation, including inventory theft.”
“The key to reducing incidents of fraud and workplace violence in your organization is to not only put mechanisms in place to discover wrongdoing, but to recognize key risk factors that every perpetrator exhibits and then act accordingly,” says Ricky Bennett, Vice President of Professional Services. “Part of our expertise in this area is to partner with an organization and help identify the risk factors that are common to incidents of fraud, as well as those risk factors exhibited by an employee prior to the commission of a workplace violence incident. If we can partner early enough, we can help reduce further occurrences of fraud or hopefully avoid an incident of workplace violence altogether.”
Based on BCI’s investigation experience, the three most common risk factors in fraud cases are:
1. Incentive or pressure to commit fraud
2. Opportunity to commit fraud
3. An attitude or rationalization for committing fraud, such as “I work so hard for this company, I deserve this.”
Because over 40% of occupational fraud is detected through anonymous tips, BCI recommends implementing an anonymous hotline for employees to report any fraudulent activity. MySafeWorkplace® is BCI’s web-based case management and anonymous reporting solution designed to help organizations discover such workplace misconduct, including incidents that could potentially lead to workplace violence. Once an issue has been discovered, organizations can use this tool to complete a thorough and effective investigation of the matter, tracking and cataloging every activity. Upon successful completion of the investigation, organizations can view analytical reports designed to provide trending data and historical information that can ultimately drive good business ethics and positive change.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace violence accounted for 18% of all workplace fatalities in 2009. Some risk factors common to workplace violence offenders include a history of violence that may be expressed through aggressive language, hitting or throwing objects, or minor vandalism. Another factor is poor impulse control which may also impact an employee’s ability to perform well at work, including increased attendance issues.
“Discovering an issue before it escalates into an incident of workplace violence, similar to what we saw in Bethesda, is critical to keeping an organization safe,” says Ricky Bennett. “Once you identify the indicators, it is much easier for corporate investigators, such as we employ, to perform a proper investigation, allowing managers to reach a reasonable conclusion so that the organization can take appropriate action to mitigate the problem and avoid costly litigation; or, in the case of Bethesda, a horrific incident of workplace violence.”
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