Saturday, January 20, 2007

Will a hot-line being staffed 24 hours solve the fraud problem in Los Angeles?

A story recently hit the press about Los Angeles County (potentially) losing $2 billion a year to fraud. That's a lot of taxpayer money!

This dollar figure was "estimated" (using Association of Certified Fraud Examiner statistics), which say that 5 percent of all revenues (generic) are lost to "employee fraud, waste and abuse." Nonetheless, there have been a lot of recent allegations of "too much fraud" occurring in Los Angeles County.

The problem with any fraud statistic is that the intention of the people - who commit financial misdeeds (fraud) - normally like to keep it rather anonymous. I keep seeing different figures (the $2 billion was from an article a couple of weeks ago), but the truth is - all anyone knows - is that it appears to be a substantial problem.

Now the County officials are announcing a fraud hot-line to report instances of government fraud and abuse will be manned 24/7.

The LA Times is reporting:
Ratcheting up efforts to crack down on bureaucratic waste, fraud and abuse, Los Angeles officials unveiled a 24-hour whistle-blower hot line Thursday to take tips from workers and the public.

The latest move to clean up City Hall comes two years after the City Controller's Office created a special task force to investigate fraud.

LA Times story written by Rick Orlov, here.

If you are a resident of Los Angeles County and have something to report, the number is (866) 428-1514.

In the recent article, I read quoting the $2 billion loss figure, there were also allegations that very few people are ever prosecuted, or even lose their jobs when caught committing fraud in the County.

In fact, a recent story stated:

Despite the large number of prosecutions, critics said only a small proportion of county employees found to have engaged in fraud and misconduct are disciplined or charged criminally.

While investigators substantiated 120 fraud hot-line cases last year, only 38 employees, or 32 percent, were fired, suspended, transferred or allowed to resign.

Does this mean that the County is losing $2 billion a year to fraud, the hot line only netted 120 "substantiated cases," and of the personnel implicated - 68 percent of them are still employed?

I'm just an "average person," but to me, increasing the fraud hot-line hours isn't going to make this problem go away.

And not going after the problem "aggressively enough" isn't fair to the honest citizens of Los Angeles, who are "footing the bill" for all of this.

I wonder how many private companies would put 2 out of 3 people bilking their bottom lines back to work?

I feel sorry for the investigators trying to put a dent in this problem!

Here is another post, I did on fraud in Los Angeles:

Los Angeles Grand Jury Calls Child Care Program an ATM for Thieves

No comments: