Special Audits & Investigations
How We Investigate Fraud
1. We Receive a Tip
Each year, the Auditor of State’s Office receives hundreds of tips regarding suspected fraud in government. These tips come from many sources, including public employees and concerned citizens as well as state auditors who find suspicious activity in the course of a routine financial audit.
Tips or complaints of fraud in Ohio’s governments may be made at any time by any public employee or private citizen. Fraud may be reported by using this website, U.S. Mail or via the Auditor of State’s Fraud Hotline.
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2. Special Audit Task Force Evaluates the Tip
The Special Audit Task Force is a group of auditors and investigators led by Auditor Yost who evaluate tips and complaints received by the office. If the Special Audit Task Force decides that a case falls under the authority of the Auditor of State’s Office and is probable fraud or theft, it is sent to the Special Audit Section and Special Investigations Unit for further review. Cases that are not subject to the Auditor of State’s authority may be referred to other local, state or federal government agencies, prosecutors and law enforcement officers.
Ohio Fraud Reporting
A public log of fraud reports is available through the Ohio Fraud Report System, which includes the date of the report, the entity complained of, the nature of the complaint, and the status of the review of the complaint. The public log was established through H.B. 66.
3. Special Audit &/or Special Investigation
Special Audit Section
A special audit is a limited-scope examination of financial records and other information designed to investigate allegations of fraud, theft or misappropriation of funds – or to quantify the extent of such losses.
Special audits can be independent, stand-alone examinations, or conducted during the course of a regular financial audit. Independent stand-alone examinations are necessary when an allegation requires extensive detailed testing or if a timely review is not possible during a regular financial audit. When conducted during a regular financial audit, the Special Audit Section works with financial auditors to ensure proper testing is done to determine if public funds have been illegally spent or are unaccountable. Separate special audits may be necessary, for example, if an investigation requires significant amounts of detailed testing, or if timely review of the complaint is not possible during the regular audit.
Special Investigations Unit (SIU)
The Special Investigations Unit works to aggressively root out fraud and public corruption. Investigators gather information that is not readily available during the special audit, which may include bank statements or credit card records that must be obtained through a subpoena. Additionally, SIU investigators may conduct interviews to identify persons responsible for the loss of public funds.
The unit works closely with the Auditor of State’s Special Audit and Financial Audit Sections to determine if criminal activity has occurred. They also promote a coordinated effort with local, state and federal government and law enforcement officials to combat public corruption in Ohio.
Once fieldwork has been completed, the Auditor of State’s office will work with county or federal prosecutors to determine the next steps for a case. During each investigation, SIU builds a case file containing all information necessary to try a case in court. Prosecutors have the option to work independently or to request the help of a special prosecutor from the Auditor’s Legal Division. Benefits of a special prosecutor from the Auditor of State’s office is the increased familiarity with an investigation and trial-court expertise in public-sector prosecutions.