What is a fraud? Since Enron, the biggest accounting fraud in history, there has been a lot of investigation of frauds in the news. Lately there have been Ponzi schemes surfacing in the news. Fraud is becoming a very big problem in the business world, so it is important to understand what a fraud is and the different types of frauds. This essay will explain what characteristics are frauds and are not frauds. This essay will discuss the five different types of occupational frauds and go give examples such as Enron, WorldCom and Ponzi schemes that have been in the news.

The first character of a fraud is intent. For an action to be considered a fraud the action must be intentional. This fraud must also be intended to trick or deceive a person, company, or organization out of an asset. In a fraud there is a theft that takes place that is criminal. A fraud does not take place when an asset is taken by force or when a mistake is made. For example, a robbery or a receivables clerk making a mistake in an entry would not be considered a fraud. Also, if an action is victimless then no fraud has been committed. A fraud must always have a victim.

There are five major categories in occupational fraud. They are employee embezzlement, management fraud, investment fraud, vendor fraud, and customer fraud. Employee embezzlement accounts for the most loss suffered by employers every year. Employee embezzlement is when an employee legally obtains an asset and fraudulently uses that asset. The most common type is employee theft. For example, an employer steals their company’s products or illegal taking proceeds from sales by their company. Embezzlement may occur in a company’s account payables and receivables.

Some examples are if an employee writes company checks to themselves or when a check comes in to receivables a fraudster pockets the check.

Management frauds are falsifying or manipulating financial statements committed by top managers or executives of a company. These falsified documents are intended to show higher a profit for their company. The two biggest cases of management frauds are Enron and WorldCom. Enron, one of the world’s largest energy traders, was forced to file for bankruptcy in February of 2002. Enron was investigated for hiding over $1 billion in expenses and losses in investment partnerships. WorldCom was caught for hiding billions of dollars of expenses by charging them to capital expenditures.

Investment frauds are when an investor makes a decision to purchase or sell based on false information. The biggest investment scam was Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme discovered in December 2008. A Ponzi scheme is when an earlier investor’s returns on an investment are paid by money invested by later investors. The scheme was named after Italian immigrant Charles Ponzi ,who scammed over $7 million out of investors in the early 1900s. Bernie Madoff scammed investors out of $50 billion by promising investors a return of about fifteen percent on their investment. Madoff falsified financial statements to make it look as though he was making a profit on investments. Madoff admitted to his scheme after investors attempted to withdraw $7 billion from his firm and Madoff did not have enough new investors to pay them off.

Vendor fraud is when a vendor overcharges purchases of goods or services or does not ship a product after it has been purchased. This type of fraud is also when an auto body shop convinces a customer that they need to get a new transmission when they really do not. The vendor takes advantage of the customer’s lack of knowledge of automobiles. Also, a vendor can send a lower amount of products then what was on the invoice. This can be done by removing products out of the boxes or sending fewer boxes then ordered.

Customer fraud happens when a customer does not pay full price for a product or receives something for nothing. An example of customer fraud would be when a customer uses an old receipt to get a refund for an item that did not pay for. Or at a cash register a person does not change a customer full price for a product. Even a student breaking into his school’s account to change his grades is an example of customer fraud.

Frauds are responsible for millions of dollars in business losses every year. It is important to know what the characteristics of a fraud are and understand the different types of frauds. Although there are many different types of frauds this essay concentrated on occupational frauds and examples of them. Thousands of individuals are victims of fraud every year. The best way to make sure you are not a victim is to be informed about frauds and take measures to prevent them.