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Hundreds of Officials Turn Out for Anti-Fraud Training
Columbus – About 650 local officials – including mayors, school board members, financial officers and attorneys – participated in training to detect fraud and theft through a new statewide initiative of Auditor of State Dave Yost.
“The response to this no-cost training has exceeded our expectations,” Yost said. “We had capacity crowds at several of the locations, and the feedback has been terrific.” The seven free sessions, which concluded last night in Powell, were held across the state to allow for convenient access.
“We decided to provide this training so that those running our townships, villages and schools know the warning signs of fraud,” Yost said. “We know statistically the longer the fraud continues unabated, the more damage is done. We need to educate our local officials to help them be on the lookout to protect our citizens and their money.”
Brendan Inscho, head of the Public Integrity Assurance Team which did the training, explained that the longer the theft goes undetected, the more emboldened the thief becomes. Statistically, it is indisputable that the sooner the fraud is detected, the less money is at risk: If the theft is discovered within six months after first being initiated, the damage amounts to a median loss of $45,000. At 24 months, the damage is typically $150,000. If the theft continues for 60 months, the median loss is $738,000.
“While our responsibility is to find fraud and theft after it happens, our goal is to prevent it from happening in the first place. That way, no tax dollars are stolen and no lives are destroyed when the thieves are caught – and they always get caught,” Yost said.
Becky Larrabee, fiscal officer for the Village of Lakeview, was so impressed by the training that she would like to see it required of every public official. “Auditor Yost needs to make this training mandatory for village administrators, council members and mayors,” Larrabee said.
The anti-fraud training is the latest effort by Auditor Yost to detect fraud or have it easily reported to authorities. Since taking office in 2011, Yost established the Public Integrity Assurance Team, which investigates allegations of fraud, and created an app that makes it easy for people to report suspected fraud.
“It’s very important that those who have oversight responsibilities are not afraid to ask tough questions,” said Inscho during the final seminar held in Powell April 27. “We tell them, ‘It’s all right to be inquisitive, to ask questions.’ We need to all ask intelligent questions because at the end of the day the public will be thankful you were good stewards of their money.”
Yost was pleased with the attention being focused on rooting out fraud.
“Beyond the financial costs, each incidence of theft erodes the public’s precious trust in its institutions,” Auditor Yost said.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,800 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.
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