Whether you own and operate a business that employs a staff or you are offering accounting services and trying to ensure that your clients' finances are in good order, it behooves you to keep your eyes peeled for possible instance of account-skimming. But it may not be as easy as it sounds. Unlike other types of financial fraud, skimming usually occurs before money hits the books. And while some types of skimming can leave a paper trail, those that involve cash transactions may be impossible to track after the fact. So if you're concerned that your business (or a client's company) could be subject to skimming employees, here are just a few common schemes to be on the lookout for, as well as ways to combat them.
Businesses that take cash payments are the most likely targets for skimming scams because it's so easy to get away with pocketing money and then failing to report it. For example, suppose you run a restaurant. A waiter that wants to boost earnings could simply cancel out orders and skim an entire cash payment. Of course, someone might notice this odd behavior, so it is much more likely that they'll simply comp items here and there and skim that money. Since it's fairly common to give complimentary items to customers that complain, they can simply chalk up these instances to attempts to satisfy customers if they're called out on the high number of comps they offer. The easiest way around this is to require manager approval for all comped items or cancelled orders in the system.
Of course, other types of businesses could also be subject to skimming. If, for example, you are a supplier for other businesses, you could face problems with employees entering discounts or false payment information. For example, suppose an employee processes an order for a certain number of items, charges a client for the full order and receives payment, but then discounts the sale in your system or even enters a smaller number of items sold. This leaves extra cash for them to pocket. Again, cash payments are your enemy. More and more, digital payments are the best way to track money coming and going and catch employees in the act of skimming.
Also common is stealing and cashing checks (especially prevalent when employees are responsible for deposits and withdrawals for the business) as well as borrowing money in order to earn interest before returning it to accounts. Your best bet here is to check receipts against account activity and look for oddities in the deposit and withdrawal schedule. You might also want to require the use of employee codes for all transactions within your system and even go so far as to install cameras in your business to make sure that employees are not engaging in any nefarious behavior (stealing or otherwise).
The fact that you are practically giving away goods and services these days by offering Groupon deals and promo codes to customers could make you feel like you're getting robbed. But it's nothing compared to the betrayal evinced by employees that undermine your business by skimming off the top for themselves. So enact strict policies and repercussions concerning theft and then take steps to minimize the risk of skimming. This will help to ensure that your business runs smoothly and that unscrupulous employees are either stymied in their efforts to steal or caught in the act.