Avoiding Fraud in Condominium and Homeowners Associations

Last week an Indiana newspaper published an article titled "Homeowners association supervisor faces 21 counts of forgery." (Click here to read article) The article states:

A McCordsville woman is charged with 20 counts of forgery and one count of theft of at least $100,000 in Marion County.

Marcy M. Smitley, 39, the owner of MCS Management Group Inc., was hired to supervise the Winslow Crossing apartment and condo complex on the southeast side of Indianapolis.

Court documents state Smitley repeatedly wrote and cashed checks without the permission or knowledge of Winslow Crossing Homeowners Association, pocketing more than $120,000 during the course of four years.

Fraud and embezzlement can occur in any condominium or homeowners association.  Here are some steps to help minimize your risk:

1. Purchase fidelity insurance to protect your association from theft of funds.  Your fidelity policy limits should match the amount of funds in your accounts.

2. Require two signers for all checks.

3. Have an independent CPA perform an annual financial review or audit.

4. Require monthly bank account reconciliation.

5. Keep blank checks in a secure location.

6. Consider background checks for any employee or contractor who may have access to association funds.