How to protect yourself (and your business) from financial scams

Sometimes businesses or individuals are reluctant to report that they’ve been victimized by financial crimes — or they report them too late to recoup the lost money.

The top prosecutor for Prince George’s County, in Maryland, has some tips to keep you and your business from becoming victims.

State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy, in a virtual news conference, highlighted a couple of ongoing cases and offered tips to keep it from happening to you.

In one case, a former bookkeeper for a local volunteer fire department was recently indicted on charges of stealing over $100,000 from the department, allegedly by moving money from various accounts into a checking account, then writing checks to herself.

In another case, a woman is accused of stealing more than $600,000 from her mother-in-law. She’s also accused of stealing real property from her mother-in-law, all to finance her own lifestyle

Braveboy said there are several way businesses can protect themselves:

  • Require more than one person to sign checks.
  • Establish a regular financial reporting system to a board of directors. It can be monthly or quarterly.
  • Make sure independent audits are conducted, at least annually.
  • Perform background checks on people you hire.
  • Obtain errors and omissions insurance, which covers all officers of the company or nonprofit, and any employees who have access to finances.

In the case of a family situation where a person is caring for someone who is elderly, has a disability, or is otherwise unable to care for themselves, even if you’re asking a family member to be the caregiver, you can ask the court to appoint them as “guardian ad litem,” which would give the court the ability to oversee financial transactions involving the vulnerable person’s accounts.

Braveboy was joined at the news conference by Franklin Shelton, the chief of Prince George’s County’s Special Prosecutions Unit, and Assistant State’s Attorney Drew Grigg.

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