Thursday, 2 February 2012

Alarming rise in theft from customers

There's been 41% rise in employees stealing money from customers or the businesses they work for.

Fraud experts say the jump is partly the result of continuing austerity, with some staff desperate to make ends meet or fearing redundancy -- although in other cases the perpetrators enjoyed the thrill of committing a fraud or wanted to take revenge on bosses.

The figures come from CIFAS, which analyses fraud for an alliance of leading firms, including banks, credit card companies, retailers and insurers.

It has been monitoring a sample of 80 members and reports that last year cases of "dishonest actions by staff to gain a benefit from theft or deception" rose to 220 from 156 the year before.

The numbers in the sample appear small, but they only cover those cases where there is evidence of an identifiable criminal act. CIFAS says the rise is "alarming".

Richard Hurley, a CIFAS manager, warns that "many of these fraudsters steal from elderly and more vulnerable account holders"

He says that nearly a third of the cases involved the theft of cash from customers.

Here are some typical cases:

* an employee stealing cash from a customer. An example would be where a customer deposits £150 cash into an account but the member of staff steals £20 and
deposits the rest.

* a customer service worker at a credit card company diverts funds from your account while speaking to you over the phone and looking at all your account details

* a phone company account handler handles your payments and diverts cash for his own benefit.

* a staff member steals from a company by removing cash from the float in the till.

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