How to Report Suspected Fraud

Fraud can cost a business or government hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Fraud can cost a business or government hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Image: dollar fan image by Maxim Kulemza from

Fraud occurs when someone uses inside knowledge of an organization, business, government office or individual to steal money or property. Someone who burns down their home to collect insurance money has committed fraud. There are also cases of welfare fraud, where someone lies about their number of children to get more benefits. In small towns across the country, there have been cases of municipal bookkeepers who falsify documents or forge checks to steal taxpayer money. Those who suspect fraud can help authorities to prosecute the lawbreaker.

Collect evidence. Pull employee time sheets, surveillance tapes and invoices, and check with the bank daily for any activity on your office or business account. Save suspicious emails. According to, it's also important to see if any check numbers are unaccounted for in transaction reports. Look in wastebaskets and recycling bins for suspicious documents. Document if any employees, clients or customers have deviated from their routines in terms of hours, appearance times and amount of money spent, charged, collected or requested.

Contact authorities. Describe the fraudulent action that you suspect, and provide any evidence. The police may pass the complaint on to another agency, such as a Social Service welfare fraud examiner if it's a case of suspected benefits fraud, or an insurance investigator for possible arson. It's wise to get an outside agency involved in case multiple employees are involved in the scam.

Monitor the situation. Police may have opened an investigation after your complaint, but it may not be a high priority and they probably don't have the resources to monitor the suspect's current activities while they are also tracing evidence. If you see the town bookkeeper's car at town hall well after business hours, for example, note the times and dates and pass them along to police. Officers may tell you not to interfere with their investigation or confront the suspect, but that doesn't mean you can't make observations.

Tips & Warnings

  • Internet fraud can be tricky for local police because they don't know where an email sent to you by the alleged scam artist is coming from. State police may have cyber investigators who can contact their federal counterparts.

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