Today I provide three receipt-fraud tests for auditors.
The audit standards require that we introduce elements of unpredictability. Additionally, it’s wise to perform fraud tests. But I find that auditors struggle with brainstorming (required by AU-C 240, Consideration of Fraud in a Financial Statement Audit) and developing fraud tests. That’s why I wrote Five Disbursement Fraud Tests. It’s also why I am providing this post.
So, let’s jump in. Here are three receipt-fraud tests.
Receipt clerks sometimes steal collected monies and write off (or write down) the related receivable. Why does the clerk adjust the receivable? So the customer doesn’t receive a second bill for the funds stolen.
How to test?
Obtain a download of receivable adjustments for a period (e.g., two weeks) and see if they were duly authorized. Review the activity with someone outside the receivables area (e.g., CFO) who is familiar with procedures but who has no access to cash collections.
If there are multiple persons with the ability to adjust receivable accounts (quite common in hospitals), compare weekly or monthly adjustments made by each employee.
Agree receipts with bank deposits.
When rebate checks are not sent to a central location (e.g., receipting department), the risk of theft increases. Rebate checks are often not recorded as a receivable, so the company may not be aware of the amounts to be received. Stealing unaccrued receivable checks is easy.
How to test?
Determine which vendors provide rebate checks (or similar non-sales payments). Send confirmations to the vendors and compare the confirmed amounts with activity in the general ledger.
Theft of rebate checks is more common in larger organizations (e.g., hospitals) where checks are sometimes received by various executives. The executive receives a check in the mail and keeps it for a while (in his desk drawer – in case someone asks for it). Once he sees that no one is paying attention, he steals and converts the check to cash.
The fraudster may bill for services through the company accounting system or an alternative set of accounting records and personally collect the payments.
How to test?
Compare revenues with prior years and investigate significant variances. Alternatively, start with source documents and walk a sample of transactions to revenue recognition, billing, and collection.
Here are a few examples of actual off-the-book thefts:
An auditor detected a decrease in police-fine revenue in a small city while performing audit planning analytics. Upon digging deeper, he discovered the police chief had two receipt books, one for checks that were appropriately deposited and a second for cash going into his pocket. Sometimes, even Andy Griffith steals.
A hospital CFO, while performing reorganization procedures, set up a new bank account specifically for deposit of electronic Medicaid remittances. He established himself as the authorized bank account check-signer.
The CFO never set up the bank account in the general ledger. As the Medicaid money was electronically deposited, the CFO transferred the funds to himself. What was the money used for? A beautiful home on Mobile Bay, new cars, and gambling trips.
Sometimes it’s not the front-desk receipt clerk that steals. Surprisingly, your receipt supervisor can be on the take. So, consider that receipt theft takes place up-front and in the back-office.
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Charles Hall is a practicing CPA and Certified Fraud Examiner. For the last thirty years, he has primarily audited governments, nonprofits, and small businesses. He is the author of The Little Book of Local Government Fraud Prevention and Preparation of Financial Statements & Compilation Engagements. He frequently speaks at continuing education events. Charles is the quality control partner for McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co. where he provides daily audit and accounting assistance to over 65 CPAs. In addition, he consults with other CPA firms, assisting them with auditing and accounting issues.
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Thanks for the encouragement Ronald. I appreciate your visiting.
I always enjoy your articles and educational materials. thanks
Thanks Ross. I enjoy working with small businesses.
Like your audit comments for small audits.
Bill, Thanks for the comment. The cash-for-check substitute is deadly and one that most auditors are not aware of. Good job in catching this one. Here is a related post from a few weeks ago: https://cpahalltalk.com/fraud-check-for-cash-substitutions/
Great Points! Referencing revenue collection, I recommend a close study of revenue collection data links to the bank accounts reconcilation processes. I had a case were a manager after signing on as a cashier to help reduce long lines, pocket cash collections and and hide the resulting cash shortage by reducing the amount he posted for checks he had earlier intecertped from the mailroom and deposited while he was working as a cashier. This internal control step that would have stopped him was to have an independant reconcilation of checks deposted with checks collected. Take nothing for granted and do your own test.