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LONDON PHILHARMONIC FD ORCHESTRATED MAJOR 'INSIDER' FIDDLE

It doesn’t matter who they are, or for whom they work – when an insider fraudster gets caught, it’s amazing how unsophisticated (yet alarmingly effective) the techniques they used to perpetrate their crime turn out to be!

In recent days it has been the turn of the former financial director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Cameron Poole, 36, is facing jail after admitting he defrauded the world-famous orchestra out of more than £645,000 to supplement his lifestyle!

Poole plundered LPO finances by forging cheque and credit card signatures, which paid for flights, jewelry, artwork, clothes and even an extension to his £900,000 family home in south London!

His secret payments went undiscovered for almost three years, draining the orchestra’s reserve fund and leaving it facing total losses estimated at more than £2.3 million.

For me, there are two important questions that need answering in this case:

  • Why did Cameron commit the crime?
  • Why did his plundering go undetected for so long?

Considering fraud prevention and detection is how I make my living, I think I’d like an answer to the second question first – but it might take a long time for it to be delivered.

What on earth was going on within LPO for so long that allowed Poole to trouser so much of its hard-earned funds?

I can only assume that, like a lot of organisations, the LPO had non-existent systems in place to monitor the conduct of its employees.

Also, I suspect there was a strong bond between the team, thereby insulating any would-be thieves from serious scrutiny. After all, Poole was a member of the inner circle. If he couldn’t be trusted, who could?

That’s a rhetorical question, because, as we all know, the answer is ‘no-one’.

In Poole’s case, his success seems to have been founded on the close working relationship he had with the orchestra’s CEO, Tim Walker. This relationship enabled Poole to sidestep the usual audit procedures, which required multiple signatures for any payment to be made.

Poole, who will be sentenced on 28 September, claimed money had been paid to talent agencies, when the reality was he was using it to pay off his building contractor and other creditors.

If this has a familiar ring to it, that’s because Poole’s ‘insider’ crimes are relatively common.

His excess emphasises just how important it is for all organisations – regardless of their size and the work they do – to ensure adequate monitoring and fraud prevention systems are in place.

To sweep such considerations under the carpet is playing with fire, as the LPO has discovered to its considerable cost.

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