Accounts payable audit finds misdeeds in mosquito control agency

For a company to function effectively, leaders must start with strong hiring practices. If a business doesn't have a basic understanding of the backgrounds of individuals working closely with important accounts, it opens itself up to the possibility of fraud.

According to the San Mateo Daily Journal, Jo Ann Dearman may serve up to seven years in prison for embezzlement from the San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District. She pleaded no contest to 10 felonies as part of a plea deal.

An AP audit showed that Dearman, along with Vika Sinapata, stole more than $635,000, though they were only charged from the $450,000 that could be proven, the newspaper explained. In order to gain access to these funds, the women used company credit cards for their own purchases, made fraudulent transfers into their own accounts and raised their pay rates, in addition to other offenses.

The San Francisco Chronicle noted that the thefts went unnoticed until officials of the agricultural agency saw a January 2012 report claiming they had gone over budget by $150,000.

The source also pointed out that performing a criminal background check, which did not occur when Dearman was hired, may have helped avoid trouble. Dearman – then referred to as Joanne Seeney – stole $500,000 from an unnamed previous employer between 2002 and 2007, the San Francisco Examiner revealed. An additional theft, totaling $49,000, was discovered as the first was being investigated.

Cases like this one shine a spotlight on how important it is to exert certain controls over staff members with financial responsibilities. While more knowledge into Dearman's past may have influenced the mosquito control district's hiring decisions, it also may have been able to prevent misconduct by keeping closer watch on accounts. By using audit solutions, organizations can discourage theft and gain better insight into their monetary health.

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