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With holidays here, most employees are ready to enjoy a well-deserved break, but fraudsters are often reluctant to take leave. What are other clues which suggest that all is not as it seems?

Smartryk Calitz, Mubesko Africa’s head of Fraud Investigations, warns that you should not assume that the motive behind not taking leave is fraud related. He says that although it could be a red flag for fraud, it could also indicate other factors which need addressing.

What are some of the indicators to look out for?

1. Extended hours

“Employees who avoid taking leave or work extended hours may be wary of leaving their desks in case their fraud is uncovered. They may however be loyal, committed, or distressed employees. This behaviour may not be fraud-related but caused by exploitation, poor planning, or inadequate training. Either way, not taking leave or consistently working long and irregular hours needs looking into.”

2. Living beyond their means

An employer knows what an employee’s take-home salary is and should be alert to clues that they are living beyond their means.

“The debt situation in South Africa is chronic and many people are living beyond their means and caught in a debt spiral. Many South Africans are under severe financial pressure, and this can lead to fraud. There are two ways to avoid this. One, introduce over-indebted employees to credible debt counsellors. Two, tighten your process to prevent the temptation of committing fraud”.

3. Signs of anxiety

“Where an employee is showing signs of stress or anxiety, HR should take a closer look to establish what the problem is. It could be work-related, personal or financial pressure, or the possibility of them covering fraud. The testing economic climate fuels the temptation to commit fraud as many people are desperate. If any of the red flags do lead to a fraud, it is already too late. Rather put in measures to prevent fraud”.


Smartryk Calitz
Mubesko Africa
Head of Fraud Examination


Smartryk Calitz, head of Mubesko Africa’s fraud examination team, was recognised as South Africa’s Certified Fraud Examiner of the Year by the ACFE’s South African chapter.