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Forensic accounting methods save taxpayers over £1bn – 22 April 2013

Member: Nifa

The National Audit Office announced last month that its National Fraud Initiative (NFI) has saved the taxpayer over £1bn through employing forensic accounting methods and tracking cash lost through fraud, overpayment or error.  As forensic accountants do, the NFI’s investigators cross-matched information from over 1,300 organisations in the public and private sectors and flagged up inconsistencies in data that potentially indicated a fraud was taking place.

The investigators find patterns in fraud activity that might otherwise be missed, as they are trained in forensic accounting methods and have permission to search in more depth than other accountants might.  Of course small firms are not in the league of losing sums of the order of £1bn, but any preventable loss is money off the bottom line so business owners would do well to consider employing a forensic accountant with specially honed skills to ensure that losses do not happen or, if losses have already arisen, to find out where and how.

Forensic accountants will investigate and analyse the financial evidence they have identified and then produce answers based on fact rather than conjecture.  Because their work is of an investigative nature, although they carry out interviews and speak to people involved in the loss, they work very much with financial evidence and patterns.

As the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales put it, forensic accountants are trained to ‘look beyond’ the numbers and have the ability to interpret, analyse and summarise complex financial and business issues.  They may also develop their own computerised applications to assist in the analysis and presentation of their findings, as the investigators at the NFI have evidently done.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 22 April 2013

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