20/20 Uncovers Years of Fraud by Tower Hill Treasurer
Long-time Village Treasurer Charged with Fraud that Survived Years of Audits
“We didn’t know this fraud existed until John brought it to our attention. John played a critical role in moving this investigation forward. Their team was extremely professional and even helped us to secure fidelity bond proceeds."
"John was willing to work with us and that flexibility made a challenging situation better for us. We highly recommend using their services to detect and investigate fraudulent activity.” Phil Watson, Mayor, Tower Hill, IL
A trusted and longtime member of the community who served as Tower Hill, IL, Treasurer has been indicted on counts of wire fraud and embezzlement of more than $170,000 in cash and checks over nearly eight years. She is accused of stealing cash payments submitted for water and sewer bills as well as altering the village's financial records to hide the theft.
The Village of Tower Hill underwent regular financial audits for the past 17 years, which did not uncover the fraud. Like many municipalities and companies, the Village believed that regular audits and safeguards such as requiring dual signatures on checks and board member review of financial statements were adequate to detect fraud. In truth, audits focus on testing financial transactions and reasonable assurance that financial statements are free of material misstatements. An auditor reviews records and books for reasonableness but investigating the nature of the transactions is not the goal of the audit so fraud frequently goes undetected.
Forensic accounting, on the other hand, reviews transactions to determine trends and patterns that can identify a scheme if one exists. Forensic accountants integrate accounting and auditing skills with investigative techniques and professional skepticism.
20/20 Forensic Accounting was originally brought in by the newly elected Village Board to conduct an audit but in an initial review, they quickly found telling signs that a forensic audit was necessary. Working with the U.S. Attorney, FBI, Illinois State's Attorney, State Police and the Illinois Judicial Courts, the team at 20/20 Forensic Accounting dug deeply and worked for more than a year to compile litigation support and bring the truth into focus.
The Illinois State Police investigation is ongoing and the case is expected to go to trial in August 2018.