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Submitted by lenon76 on


I was just assigned as a sales manager for a set of countries I previously had under my direct responsibility, and I used to travel there. Now the person who travels to these countries has presented an expense report, in which he spent 3 times more than what is normal on transportation (not including air tickets), when this individual didn't have to do any specially long trip, also he's spent around 15% more on meals by going to very expensive places.

I have suspicions on this being a fraud to the company, in which this person is trying to get extra money by filling blank receipts. This I cannot prove, but what I do know is that the amounts spent are way beyond what the real costs are.

This person was demoted from a management position, and stayed in the company because he didn't have any more options. I take it that he may be trying to compensate income lost by doing this.

I would greatly appreciate some guidance on how to talk with this person on this.

Thank you.






drenn18's picture
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Tell him, "While travelling, please keep your travelling expenses under $_____." Pick a number, you know the budget. If you can't trust him just provide a limit that you know previous people haven't surpassed.

Just say, "we can't sustain that type of expense" and offer some alternatives to the expensive options he chose.


mjpeterson's picture

i wasn't sure what exactly you were saying.  Are you saying he is spending too much, then the above suggestion will solve the problem.  If he is defrauding the company, require receipts for all of his expense above a certain nominal value.  Then once you have the receipts it would be a simple effort to verify that the receipts are in-fact real and correct.  Spending too much can be simply solved with feedback.  Defrauding the company will require termination. 


lenon76's picture
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Thanks David and MJPETE.

I have reasonable doubts of fraud. However it's quite complicated to verify, since in the countries visited taxi drivers offer blank receipts to their clients very often. I seriously doubt the amount is real.

Should I only give feedback, given I can't prove it? And maybe set a maximum limit of expenses?

Thank you again.





drenn18's picture
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Don't accept blank receipts ever, maybe? I've never managed an expense budget so I'm unqualified to weight in but it would seem reasonable to me to not accept blank receipts.

Then, require all real receipts to be submitted. Then give feedback if these exceed the allowed budget.

Solitaire's picture

I'd suggest that you set limits too.

It can be hard to get anything other than blank receipts from some taxi drivers in different countries, but you should be more likely to get proper printed receipts for all hotel stays that detail everything on them including drinks, food, internet usage pay-per-view TV channels & room fees. (This is based on my experience on staying in major cities in Europe on business).

Many companies set limits such as a maximum room fee per night, maximum meal allowances, only two alcoholic drinks allowed per person per meal etc. Travel is harder to set limits for, but you can suggest that no business class flights are permitted (for example).

I would suggest that you advise him of your findings based on your own experience of travelling in these countries; that his spend is 15% higher than your own was on meals and 3 times that in travel expenses, then set the limits for various things. Or perhaps you can give him one or two months (until his next claim) to get the spending under control and reduced by amounts that you agree with him, otherwise you will then set limits for him for the future.

GlennR's picture

I counsel you to be very careful of your facts before you jump to conclusions. For some years now I have overseen conference and travel management for my division. As such I am privy to reports that have shown me that some people are penny-wise and others are pound-foolish. You may constantly seek out the best deals wanting to save your company money and he may see staying in more expensive hotels as a perk.

It may not be fraud, it may be a difference in philosophy.

You are assuming that you are the norm, when in fact, you might be more frugal than most.

Does your company not have travel policies around this? I wonder why you should be taking unilateral action here. This risks creating a situation where one manager (you) has more strict travel policies than one of your peers. It doesn't take long for directs to realize that double standards exist. This harms engagement.

Were I you, I would first check with my HR department and/or my supervisor. They may be able to give you a better picture of what the norm should be. I would not mention my suspicions of fraud unless I had hard evidence. Rather, I would extrapolate from his current expenses how long it would take him to exceed his travel budget.

"I'm concerned because Joe is going to exceed his travel budget well before the end of the current cycle."

You may have been exceptional  at managing your budget; perhaps he is not. You can address this the same way with Joe. If he is padding his expense account he will now know you're monitoring it and perhaps he will stop. You shouldn't have to confront him with padding, you could just say, "Joe, when I traveled in that city, I kept my expenses lower. I don't recall ground transportation being that expensive. At this rate you will burn through your budget before the fourth quarter begins." Then listen to his side of the story.


lenon76's picture
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Thanks to all for your insights, they've been helpful for structuring my conversation with "Joe".

I finally met with him, to do our weekly one on one, and spoke about this. He didn't justify in a logical way, he kept coming with very poor reasons of why he spent much more.

I didn't mention anything about the possibility of fraud, I only stressed the fact that the amount spent on meals is X amount of Euros above what is considered normal in the company; and about ground transportation I mentioned that it is way above what is normal, I expressed that I would understand a deviation of 20% more or less and this case is way beyond that deviation.