How did a Boksburg accountant steal R500m from employer, gambling away millions? | #daitngscams | #lovescams

The story of Hildegard Steenkamp’s fraud and lavish lifestyle has been playing out in the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court.

Bruce Whitfield interviews forensic lawyer Steven Powell, director of forensics at ENSafrica.

The country heard this week how a former accountant from Boksburg who stole over half a billion rand from her employer, would spend millions in casinos in one night.

Hildegard Steenkamp’s astonishing story has been playing out in the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court.

She is convicted of stealing R537 million from medical tech company Medtronic over a period of 13 years.

That equates to a rand every second, comments Bruce Whitfield on The Money Show.

Steenkamp earlier pleaded guilty to 336 charges related to the fraud that was perpetrated between 2004 and 2016.

The court heard that she spent most of the money on gambling and funding a lavish lifestyle, blowing more than R67 million at just one casino over five years.

Whitfield interviews Steven Powell, Director of Forensics at ENSafrica.

While the volume of fraud in the marketplace has reached enormous proportions Powell says, it is staggering that Steenkamp was stealing at times almost R20 million a month and it wasn’t noticed.

He notes that ENSafrica does quite often deal with suspects who have a gambling addiction.

What these fraudsters do, because there’s social engineering as well, they’ll gamble and tell people that they gamble so people assume when they see the fancy cars and the fancy house that this must be the proceeds of winning at the casino.

Steven Powell, Director – ENSafrica

The reality is of all of these cases that we investigate… they invariably end up losing a fortune and they sometimes hope that they’re going to be able to win big and plug the hole that they’ve left at their employer.

Steven Powell, Director – ENSafrica

It’s often a case of apparently trustworthy individuals being given huge responsibility by their companies, Whitfield notes.

Are they so devious that standard controls would miss the obvious?

Powell says it’s a combination of these factors.

These individuals are incredibly clever and devious and they exploit areas where it’s difficult to pick up their activities… but I think with good controls, good oversight and some basic checks… you’ll pick up if an employee is a beneficiary (of payments) as well. A lot of companies just don’t do these types of checks…

Steven Powell, Director – ENSafrica

…and the one factor that allows ladies like this Hildegard Steenkamp to get away with the fraud is a lack of segregation of duty. We put too much power in the hands of too few individuals, particularly when they’re processing EFT payments and they have access to your electronic bank account, they can get away with literally murder.

Steven Powell, Director – ENSafrica

Powell’s advice to employers is if they see changes in an employee’s lifestyle to “be nervous, be very nervous” and to check.

It is possible to validate. And when you’re making payments to your suppliers, pay a little extra to get the banks to validate the account name with that account number because you might not be paying who you think you are.

Steven Powell, Director – ENSafrica

Scroll to the top of the article to listen to this fascinating conversation

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : How did a Boksburg accountant steal R500m from employer, gambling away millions?

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