Expense fraud is usually hidden, undiscussed, and out of the limelight. Not in 2021.
We've gathered some amazing stories that people have claimed as business expenses. And we’d like to share them with you as we go because they really highlight how creative some people can be when it comes to money. Here are a few to get us started:
You may have heard about a former EU auditor who recently was discovered to have claimed personal vacations and hunting trips as business expenses. That’s pretty typical. Except it wasn’t a few hundred dollars he used here. He claimed €570,000 worth of expenses!
Then there’s that one Flordia Man who purchased a Lamborghini with a government small business COVID loan.
And then there is the guy who bought a pokemon card for nearly $58,000 and claimed it as a business expense. And, no, he wasn’t in the card collecting business.
Now those are some interesting cases. But they’re really just the tip of the iceberg.
One man found out he was getting let go, and bought a boat on the company credit card.
Or you might have heard, in passing or while scanning the internet, about one couple that claimed their wedding as a business expense...and actually got reimbursed.
But the best story is about a young man named Elliot who attended a business dinner with the CEO of his company and a PR professional. Trying to stick to the policy, he ordered a soda and relied on refills, while the other two went in on a bottle of wine each. And the soda, plus the refills, ended up costing more than the wine! Accounting must have had fun with that.
Honestly, we love these stories. They’re hilarious. And so much better than Becky adding a false ten-dollar tip to that business lunch two weeks ago.
The mindset behind expense fraud
Let’s face it, a lot of employees fudge the numbers. And not always for big-ticket items. A recent study found that 85% of employees admit to claiming they spent more than they actually did on their expense reports.
But why do so many employees participate in expense report fraud? And why are they so open about it?
Part of it is just simple psychology.
Many people go on a business trip and just assume that everything is a business expense, or should be since they are there on the company's behalf. Others believe that since they put so much effort and time into their work, a few extra dollars off of an expense claim are fair game.
And, by the way, sometimes those little expenses are the oddest ones, even when it’s not fraud. One man had to order explosives for a video shoot, and while it was under budget and less than $100, he still had to explain why he needed the TNT.
On the other hand, there’s also an employee out there who eats at Chick-Fil-A every day of the week and counts it as a work expense. That can certainly go under the radar.
But as we’ve said, most employees just don’t know the company expense policy. In fact, two-thirds of UK employees alone haven't read their expense policy.
At the end of the day, it's just regular workers getting through the day, not realizing their effect on the organization's bottom line.
The accomplice: manual processes
Manual processes are time-consuming for the accounting department. These professionals are spending hours going through expense reports. When you think about this process, it's easy to see how an employee can even accidentally claim personal expenses on their claim and not get caught.
Even with digitalization and an ERP, if the process isn't automated, it's wasting time. With that one couple that managed to get their wedding reimbursed...it sounds far-fetched, but honestly, business expenses can get expensive. If you’re doing everything by hand, it’s easy to see how a wedding can be misinterpreted as a business event.
The solution: automation
Consider this scenario: An employee submits receipts a claim of mileage for a business event, as well as for a dining transaction, which he paid for with the company credit card.
If these items were filed and stored manually, someone would have to write down the information either by hand or in the ERP, or worse, in both methods. Then they would need to store the receipts and claims, hoping they won’t be misplaced later. If the professional had the time, they may even check the distance from the company to the event, and try to match the receipt to the credit card transaction.
With automation, that same individual could simply scan the receipts, which are then digitally stored in the software database. The information pulled is verified against company credit card transactions and the mileage is validated through Google Maps distance. In a matter of minutes, that accounting professional can determine whether or not fraud has taken place.
Automation can streamline your expense reporting, often while reducing costs and flagging suspicious behavior. If combined with policy reminders and training, you can pretty much eliminate - or significantly reduce - expense fraud.
In other words, automation can help you explain to your employees why they can’t claim their pet sitting expenses for a business trip. Or that dream boat they keep talking about at lunch. And the program will flat the expense if they try to get it reimbursed.
At Gorilla Expense, we know our clients dealt with expense fraud before signing onto our software. We’ll admit, it’s rarely as colorful as some of these stories. But, you know the drill, someone tries to explain away cruises and Disney World tickets when they go to a trade show or a work trip. If you’re busy and those receipts are vague enough, they are easy to miss.
While our clients may miss some of their worktime stories, they’re certainly happy to not have to dig into the receipts more than they have to. Instead, they can focus on more interesting work, like scrolling through more amusing fraud cases at other companies.
To learn more about automation can save you time, schedule a demo with us today.
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