County rocked by embezzlement examines checks and balances

After the discovery of a long-running embezzlement scheme involving an accountant employed by Franklin County, Washington, officials are examining how the misappropriation was allowed to happen and whether it could occur again, the Tri-City Herald reports.

Dennis Huston allegedly stole as much as $1 million by setting up a payment account for a company that was no longer in operation, then pocketing the checks himself.

According to auditor Brenda Chilton, every bill voucher that passes through her office must have evidence to support its validity. She noted that it's "very common" to send out reject sheets that require additional documentation or signatures.

"We also encourage separation of duties so that employees who make bank deposits are not the ones who reconcile the deposits," she told the news source. "But as much as we'd like to say it can't happen, individuals can be very crafty. That's why it is called fraud. It's really about being vigilant."

Chilton noted that verification can be difficult because so much business is done electronically. Accounts payable audit software can help ensure electronic transactions are above-board.

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