Report Suspected Fraud, Waste or Abuse
To help citizens and employees have a direct role, Sarasota County Government has established a toll free Fraud Hotline where callers can report suspected fraud, waste or abuse. Calls to the hotline will remain anonymous when proper reporting protocol is followed. The Fraud Hotline is managed by an independent, outside reporting agency. If anonymity is not important to you, you may identify yourself if you wish. When you call the Fraud Hotline, the interviewer will ask you if you would like to identify yourself.
The Investigative Services Team will review the allegations and determine if an investigation is warranted. The team gathers information and makes recommendations. The caller to the Hotline may be referred to Sarasota County Human Resources (to report Sarasota County employee harassment, discrimination or grievable labor issues) or to Sarasota County Ethics and Compliance (for reporting suspected or observed immoral or unethical employee practices). The Investigative Services Team does not make or enforce the rules. Referrals are made to the proper law enforcement agency when evidence suggests that a criminal activity is occurring, or may have occurred, that warrants a criminal investigation.
Call the toll free Fraud Hotline (855) 506-0304.
If you prefer not to use the Hotline, you may also report suspected fraud, waste, and abuse directly to the Sarasota County Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller Fraud Internal Audit Department via mail. Please address your mail to:
P.O. Box 3079
Sarasota, FL 34230
You may also fax your inquiry to (941) 861-5704.
For walk-in, please visit:
Sarasota County Administration Center
Internal Audit Department
1660 Ringling Boulevard
Sarasota, FL 34236
Definitions and Terminology
Fraud is defined by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners' fraud manual as any intentional or deliberate act to deprive another of property or money by guile, deception, or other unfair means. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Personal use of government-owned vehicles, supplies or equipment
- Violations of procurement policy
- Submitting false vouchers for reimbursements
- Soliciting or accepting a bribe or a kickback
- Intentionally misrepresenting the costs of goods or services provided
- Falsification of official documents (timesheets, leave reports, travel vouchers, financial records, etc.)
- Theft or misappropriation of funds, supplies, property, or other resources
- Forgery or alteration of financial documents or computer files
- Pursuit of a financial benefit or advantage in violation of conflict of interest policies
- Profiting by self or others as a result of inside knowledge
Waste refers to the unintentional, thoughtless or careless expenditure, consumption, mismanagement, use or squandering of government resources to the detriment or potential detriment of Sarasota County. Waste also includes unnecessary incurring of costs as a result of inefficient practices, systems, or controls. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Purchase of unneeded supplies or equipment
- Purchase of goods at inflated prices
- Failure to reuse or recycle major resources or reduce waste generation
Abuse refers to intentional, wrongful, or improper use or destruction of government resources, or seriously improper practice that does not involve prosecutable fraud. Abuse can include the excessive or improper use of an employee or official's position in a manner other than its rightful or legal use. Abuse can occur in financial or non-financial settings.
What is Fraud?Fraud is an unlawful, dishonest or unethical act that is intentionally, deliberately and willfully perpetrated against an organization, in a deceptive, secretive and clandestine manner, concealed or covered-up, and committed for personal enrichment or to gain unauthorized benefit or advantage.
What is the Sarasota County Fraud Hotline? Who is EthicsPoint?The hotline is a call center managed by EthicsPoint - an independent, outside reporting company - that provides an anonymous way for employees and the public to report fraud, waste, and abuse in Sarasota County government.
Why does Sarasota County need a Fraud Hotline?County leadership believes that its employees are its most important asset. By creating open channels of communication, Sarasota County can promote a positive living and work environment, and maximize employee productivity. The hotline - an effective reporting system - will augment other County efforts to foster a culture of the highest professional and ethical standards to ensure the public trust.
How do I make report?Call the Sarasota County Fraud Hotline at 855-506-0304. A live EthicsPoint operator will walk you through the reporting process. During the phone call, the interviewer will ask you questions and type your responses into the EthicsPoint secure reporting system.
What types of situations should I report?
The hotline is intended for reporting suspected fraud, waste and abuse, but resources for other issues are also available.
- To report fraud, waste, or abuse, call the Fraud Hotline at 855-506-0304 to speak with an EthicsPoint representative.
- To report employee harassment, discrimination, or any bargaining unit labor issues, call the Sarasota County Human Resources Department at 941-861-5353.
- To report improper moral or ethical conduct, call Sarasota County Government Ethics at 941-861-5000.
- To report ethics concerns regarding Sarasota County Elected Officials, call the Florida Commission on Ethics at 850-488-7864.
Where do Sarasota County Fraud Hotline reports go?When calling the hotline, reports are received by EthicsPoint staff and entered directly into the EthicsPoint system to prevent any breech in security.
Does Sarasota County management really want me to report?They certainly do. In fact, they need you to report. Employees know what is going on in the organization, both good and bad. Citizens interact with government every day. You may be in a position to have initial knowledge of an activity that may be cause for concern.
Who can access reports?EthicsPoint makes reports available only to the specific individuals charged with evaluating the report; each investigator is trained to hold reports in the utmost confidence.
I'm an employee. If my boss or managers are reported for a violation, will they see the report?The EthicsPoint system and its report distribution methods are designed so that implicated parties are not granted access to the reports in which they have been named.
What if I remember something important about the incident after I file the report? Or what if the company has further questions for me concerning my report?When you call the Fraud Hotline and file a report with an EthicsPoint operator, you receive a unique user identifier. You can call the hotline again and EthicsPoint staff can access the original report if you intend to add further information.
I am concerned that the information I provide on the hotline will ultimately reveal my identity.Calls to the Fraud Hotline remain anonymous - you may remain anonymous, unless you choose to be identified - when following proper reporting protocol. The hotline is designed to protect your anonymity. If you intend to remain anonymous, ensure that the information given to the interviewer does not reveal your identity. For example, stating "from my desk next to Jane Doe," or "in my 33 years in this department," may reveal your identity.
Are calls to the hotline subject to Public records?
What if anonymity is not important to me, or if I want to be identified with my report?
You may identify yourself if you wish. When you call the hotline, the interviewer will ask if you would like to identify yourself. If you prefer not to use the hotline, you may also report suspected fraud, waste, and abuse directly.
- By Mail: The Sarasota County Clerk and Comptroller
Fraud / Internal Audit Department
Attn: Fraud Hotline
P.O. Box 3079, Sarasota, FL 34236
- By Fax: 941-861-5704
- Walk in: Sarasota County Administration Center
Internal Audit Department
1660 Ringling Boulevard, Sarasota, FL 34236
- By Mail: The Sarasota County Clerk and Comptroller
What are some fraud, waste, or abuse terms and definitions?
- Deliberate Misrepresentation of Financial Matters concerns intentional misstatement, omission, concealment or other misrepresentation of material financial facts or conditions (under or overstating reported revenues, expenses, or assets, misapplication of GAAP priniciples).
- Embezzlement is deliberately misappropriating an organization's assets or resources without authorization for one's own use (personal, fictitious, duplicate or overstated expense reimbursement, unauthorized disbursements, personal purchases on company credit card).
- Falsification of Contracts, Reports, or Records is to intentionally misrepresent, alter, fabricate, falsify, or forge all or any part of a document, contract, report, or record for personal benefit or to gain an advantage (fictitious, misstated or altered invoices, timecards, payroll records or travel expense reports, forged or altered checks).
- Misuse of Assets or Services is to deliberately use or borrow company resources, assets, or equipment, without permission, for non-business or personal purposes or benefit (vehicles, computers, office equipment supplies).
- Theft is the act of stealing, taking, and removing cash or other property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of its use (supplies, petty cash, larceny, or skimming of cash collections).
- Corruption - Conflict of Interest, Bribery is the use of employee influence for unlawful benefit, contrary to fiduciary duty. It can be:
- An employee with an undisclosed private or personal interest influences an official action or decision (self-dealing); or
- Giving, offering, receiving, or accepting something of value for special consideration, unfair advantage or to influence an official action or decision (kickbacks, bid-rigging).