A large Insurance Brokerage House with hundreds of employees decided to offer Funeral Insurance to employees of large organisations. For this function, they promoted Lindi, a well-trusted lady staff member to head up the special administration role. Lindi had been a staff member of the Brokerage for many years and had an excellent track record both with her work and her honesty. She was dependable, reliable, and highly capable as she had many years previous experience of this type of work with them, and a good understanding of the concept. The Brokerage House knew they could leave her alone to organise this without having to check on her. She immediately got to work.
Lindi’s function was to manage the administration of the scheme and her main duties encompassed the controlling of the account, which received money on a monthly basis from these employees of various organisations who then had become policyholders. She was to ensure these funds were deposited into the company’s Banking Account and also that the two Insurance Companies involved received their regular monthly premiums. So that when a death occurred payments could be paid to the funeral parlour and/or the deceased’s family in accordance with the contents of the policy.
All went well for a long time; the membership grew and eventually swelled beyond the Brokers’ expectations. As the membership grew, so did the funds and the profits. There were a couple of grumbles but nothing out of the ordinary that drew attention to this thriving concern. The Brokerage House was most pleased with the manner in which Lindi was managing this business. They were also happy with the fact that she required no supervision of any kind and they therefore did not query the manner in which she was running the business.
Things went well for a few years and then a security company – whose workers were policyholders - started to make complaints about lack of payments. Lindi smoothly dealt with their complaints and reassured them that all would be well, but they were not satisfied with her answers. They eventually took their grievances to a higher authority and spoke to other employees of the Brokers House. Eventually, these accusations were many and reached the desk of a Director. Imagine the Brokers’ surprise when they started to investigate these matters and discovered some foundation. Upon closer inspection, it was revealed that there was very little money in the company’s account. It was then they became really suspicious.
Martin Vermaak Attorneys were called in to do a Forensic Investigation. They discovered that, among many other things, Lindi had sent written instruction to all the organisations who employed the policy members, advising them that a new account, called Helping Hands, had been opened especially for their subscriptions. The letter instructed them to cease paying into the original account and commence paying into the new Helping Hands account. No one questioned this – everyone obeyed. Of course, the Brokerage House (our Clients) had no knowledge of this.
Lindi’s handling of the Helping Hands account involved a good deal of helping herself. Through the company’s computers, Lindi was regularly sifting funds out of that account and into her own – which was burgeoning like an overripe squash. She was under the impression that she could keep this scam running at the Brokerage until she was pensionable – and she managed it unsuspected for a few years. Sadly, it was greed that got the better of her and was her downfall in the end.
Unfortunately for her, the deceit may have been her dream, but it became her nightmare in the end. Martin Vermaak was able to follow quite a complicated forensic trail in order to obtain sufficient evidence to prosecute Lindi in the Commercial Crimes Court – where he not only obtained a conviction, but she was also made to repay most of the money she had appropriated.
If you suspect that corruption, fraud or theft is taking place at your Company, call us!
Martin Vermaak Attorneys – Forensic Investigation Attorneys.