Recent reports of a long-standing misuse of funds highlighted the continued need for accounts payable audits in companies' efforts to protect themselves from fraud perpetrated by employees.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Janice Nieman was accused of embezzling more than $1 million in funds that belonged to her former employer, Wheaton Franciscan Services, a Milwaukee, Wisc.-based health care provider. A former staff member in the organization's payroll department, Nieman allegedly embezzled the money to support her gambling habit.
Nieman's alleged abuse of funds may have begun as early as 2004, according to the Journal-Sentinel. The 49-year-old woman stands accused of using her access to Wheaton Franciscan's payroll data to perpetrate more than 2,000 nefarious transactions, executed by creating false paid time off requests. In doing so, she also allegedly used nearly 850 employees' identities without authorization and routed the funds to her own bank accounts.
Despite the seriousness of the crimes, some people have expressed sympathy for Nieman.
"I think it's a very sad and a tragic situation when someone with an addiction falls into the criminal justice system," defense attorney Steve Kohn commented, according to the Sheboygan Press.
No matter one's take on the case, Nieman's actions might have been caught and prevented sooner if recovery audits had been performed to detect erroneous payment overages.