Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Internal Audit Department will conduct the training session “Fighting Fraud the 49er Way” on Thursday, April 11. Register online.

Higher education institutions are just as vulnerable to fraud as other organizations. If the pressure and opportunity exists, an employee may engage in theft.

Here are some examples of fraud cases that have occurred at various universities:

  • A company sponsored a faculty member on an all-expenses paid trip to a convention. The faculty member then filed a fraudulent expense report with the university to be reimbursed for the same trip
  • Deans and chairpersons created phony positions to hire friends and relatives
  • Instructors ordered desk copies of books from publishers under the guise of considering them for adoption as a textbook, then turned around and sold them online
  • Faculty members developed software and other products through university-sponsored research funds and then marketed or sold the products through their private companies
  • Staff engaged in personal consulting work but used university labs and facilities or assigned the work to students as term projects
  • Department heads used institution funds to purchase goods and services for personal use
  • Staff embezzled from the university by conspiring with a friend to set up a fictitious construction company and charged the college for work not performed

Here are some fraud prevention controls to reduce instances of fraud within higher education:

  • Employ a hotline to report suspicious behavior. The hotline offers a way for students, employees, faculty and other parties to anonymously report suspected fraud without fear of retribution
  • Have clearly written policies and procedures regarding ethics, fraud and abuse. The document must outline appropriate codes of conduct and the punishment for violating these rules. These should be consistently enforced and communicated to faculty and staff
  • Train campus employees on what constitutes fraud. This is an effective preventive measure

The implementation of anti-fraud controls is one of the most effective methods to deter fraud from occurring in any organization, including academia.