Forensic accounting expert Professor Lisa Jack from the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies at the University of Portsmouth has teamed up with food safety specialist NSF International and counter-fraud expert PFK Littlejohn to launch two new courses.
A one-day course, in partnership with NSF, gives buyers, those working in assurance and technical managers the knowledge and skills to spot signs of fraud. And a five-day course, in partnership PFK Littlejohn, will give designated officers for fraud and those working alongside them the legal and practical knowledge to help combat food fraud.
Counter Fraud Professional Accreditation Board
Both courses are run across the UK and the five-day course is seeking accreditation by the Counter Fraud Professional Accreditation Board and could contribute towards further qualifications. A half-day course for executives is also available and all courses can be tailored to specific industries and delivered in-house.
“These courses are all about helping those whose job is to try and combat fraud,” said Jack. “Fraud is insidious and costs the food industry in the UK £11.2bn a year, as well as posing a risk to consumer confidence and health.
“It’s vital the food industry, from small producer to conglomerate, are aware that clues to food fraud will not be found just in scientific testing, but also in paperwork, systems and in people. A great deal of forensic accounting is about noticing how people behave.”
Supply chain irregularities
Speaking at a seminar on the future of food organised by NSF in London earlier this year, Jack described how forensic accounting could be used to identify food supply chain irregularities
She explained that, as with the Chinese melamine in milk scandal, fraudsters tended to target products where detection was unlikely, the crime was easily perpetrated and yet was profitable – either low margins, but high volumes or high margins and low volumes, as with saffron.
“Food fraud and food crime is always economically motivated, and paperwork is involved somewhere,” said Jack. It was all about following the money, she added: “You can’t make it invisible … 90% is listening and asking the right questions.”