An office administrator at the Baringa Childcare Centre in the Australian Capital Territory has yesterday pleaded guilty to the theft of $42,000 from the small business.
Fairfax reports Tanya Diamond appeared at the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday, October 14, on the count of obtaining property by deception. She had originally faced 47 separate counts, but the prosecution rolled them into one all-encompassing charge.
Diamond, who began working at the facility in 2001 as a casual employee before being promoted to office administrator in 2003, used her position to amend her work hours, resulting in the theft of $42,642.19 between August 2010 and July 2013.
Diamond’s role in the childcare facility of collecting and collating time sheets, processing pay, enquiries, tax and leave, enabled her to edit her documented working hours, resulting in the fraudulent acquisition of business funds.
Diamond was still attending board of directors meetings until September of 2013.
Gary Gill, partner in charge at KPMG’s forensic accounting services and an expert on fraud protection, told SmartCompany “the owner needed to keep tabs on the numbers, as well as understanding outgoings and suspicious transactions to better ensure that this doesn’t occur in their business”.
“The owner should always be sceptical of the payroll, not so much to not trusting the employees, but being sceptical and looking closely at the payroll every month,” Gill says.
However, Gill believes not much can be done for small business due to their restricted employee numbers.
“Small businesses don’t have the same staff available as a big business does, and it would cost too much for a small business to employ more people to oversee every task,” he says.
Fraud in small business isn’t uncommon though, in 2013, Gill’s KPMG team found there has been a three-fold increase in major fraud during the past 15 years.
KPMG has found 60% of fraud is internal, and this is due to the lack of segregations of duties in a small business, meaning there is more exposure to sensitive parts of the business to more employees.
“Fraud happens to any business,” Gill says. “Wherever there is money there will be fraud.”
SmartCompany attempted to contact Baringa Childcare Centre but did not receive a response prior to publication.