Candidates seeking a career progression will frequently be matched with the most promising next-level procurement jobs or supply chain jobs by specialist procurement recruitment agencies. But how can those candidates tell whether the firm they are applying for enables or thwarts the possibilities for procurement fraud?

A seasoned procurement expert and former CPO, Peter Smith, has offered some sage advice. Smith suggests that the answers to three key questions will determine whether or not ethically-minded candidates should accept a job offer:

  1. Does the company have a purchase-to-pay process in place that includes a strictly enforced “no purchase order” clause?
  2. Does the firm have a methodical process in place for verifying the authenticity of new suppliers that must be completed before any payment is made to them?
  3. Does the company have clearly defined tiers of authority and multiple sign-offs for all but the tiniest expenditures?

If the answer is “no”, vague or equivocal, the candidate should politely decline the job offer.

Companies that can confidently answer “yes” to all three have obviously taken steps to make procurement-related fraud infinitely more difficult. “No purchase, no pay” makes it impossible to fabricate phoney invoices for payments unless the perpetrator also creates a phoney PO – another layer of complexity to make wrongdoing that much harder to accomplish.

Proper verification of the authenticity of new suppliers makes the fraudulent practice of conjuring dummy firms (owned by the fraudster and their associates) to act as the destination for fraudulent payments much easier to expose. Finally, multiple sign-offs on expenditure places clear obstacles in the path of fraudsters.

Properly run procurement recruitment agencies will practice due diligence in choosing firms that they will source talent for. But it is concerning to find that, according to Smith, few companies can resolutely answer “yes” to all three of these questions. Even so, asking them will give candidates who don’t wish to be associated with white-collar crime a heads-up on whether the resulting job offer is worth the risk.