The Inspector General Hotline provides several methods to submit and report suspected fraud, waste, abuse, financial mismanagement, ethical misconduct, guardianship and tourist tax fraud.
Authority & Jurisdiction
This department has the authority to:
Conduct internal audits and fraud, waste, and abuse investigations of the operations and financial records of Lee County government agencies, departments, employees and others under the authority of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), Port Authority (LCPA), and Clerk (LCCC)
Conduct enhanced guardianship audits and investigations
Conduct audits and enforcement of the Lee County Tourist Development Tax
This department does not have the authority to:
Audit or investigate 20th Judicial Circuit
Audit or investigate the State Attorney’s Office
Audit or investigate actions of private attorneys
Audit or investigate Lee County’s Sheriff, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser, and Supervisor of Elections
By virtue of the Whistle-blower's Act, employees who report suspected wrongdoing or fraudulent activities meeting the definition in the Whistle-blower’s Act (Sections 112.3187 – 112.31895, Florida Statutes) are protected from retaliation by management or other employees.
Hotline Tips - Complaint Intake Process
Upon receipt of a hotline tip complaint, a preliminary review of the allegation(s) is made to determine jurisdiction, legal sufficiency, and the probability that the alleged acts could have occurred. Credible complaints outside of the Inspector General’s jurisdiction are referred to the appropriate agency. Program-related, personnel, or administrative matters often do not result in an investigation being opened. In these situations, we refer the complaint, when appropriate, to the proper department or agency.
Referrals are made to the State Attorney or Local Law Enforcement Office (LEO) when evidence suggests that a criminal activity has or may have occurred.
Persons reporting fraud, waste, and abuse must provide sufficient details to facilitate an investigation. Immediate reporting is necessary while facts are still fresh in the mind of the complainant.
Providing supporting documentation directly related to the complaint assists in timely preliminary review and a more efficient investigation, if warranted. We may not be able to investigate complaints that are too vague or cannot be corroborated.
All reports must answer the questions Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How:
- Who was involved? (Names, addresses, phone numbers, if available)
- What happened? (Summary of events, additional resources of evidence)
- When did it happen? (Date, time, frequency)
- Where did it happen? (Location, city, state)
- Why was it done? (Any known motive for committing such act)
- How did it happen? (What scheme was used?)
Fraud is defined by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in their Fraud Manual as:
“Any intentional or deliberate act to deprive another of property or money by guile, deception, or other unfair means.”
Fraud refers to, but is not limited to, any dishonest or fraudulent act to include forgery or alteration of any record and document; misappropriation of funds, assets, supplies, etc.; improper handling or reporting of money or financial transactions; profiting oneself or others, as a result of inside knowledge; party in interest violations, alteration, destruction or intentional disappearance of records, furniture, fixtures, materials, assets or equipment; accepting or soliciting anything of material value from vendors or persons seeking to or already providing services or materials to the county; and/or any similar or related irregularity.
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.)
- Conducting personal business on Clerk time
- 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 the Clerk. 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 violations and circumvention of departmental or agency regulations which impair the effective and efficient execution of operations. 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.
Financial Mismanagement is management that, deliberately or not, is handled in a way that can be characterized as "wrong, bad, careless, inefficient or incompetent."
Ethical Misconduct refers to instances when public officials and government employees conduct their duties in a manner which is not impartial; use their public office for personal gain; or when their private interests are in conflict with their public duties. Detailed information regarding the state's code of ethics for public officers and employees can be found in Florida Statute Chapter 112.