Travel & Expense

No, you can’t game your expense report with food products renamed as office supplies

by Penny Desatnik March 31, 2021

Recently, Instagram posts went viral from a Toronto restaurant (@goodfortuneburger) that renamed its items as WFH expenses with the intention of “tricking” your company into reimbursing fast food. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but no, that won’t fly. 

Last month, chain restaurant Good Fortune Burger started offering #RECEATS, where popular menu items were renamed to be disguised as office supplies with the hopes of flying under the radar for expense reimbursement. With names like “Ergonomic Aluminum Laptop Stand,” “Wired Earphones with Mic,” and “Basic Steel Stapler,” the restaurant executed a marketing campaign to poke fun at reimbursement and to get people talking. 

Judging by the hundreds of social media posts and an article on popular Morning Brew, it worked. Most people saw it as the intended “fun and games,” but it does bring up important issues around expense reimbursement and intentional fraud. 

First, with more modern systems, it is not just a line item being evaluated. With products like AppZen Expense Audit, a system would not just scan each item for keywords that sound work-related, it would also take into account the vendor from which the item was purchased. Good Fortune Burger is very clearly not an office supply company. Our AI would verify the true business category for the merchant by doing a full internet search for context and checking its address and phone number. The mismatch would raise a red flag – and it won’t take much analysis for your team to spot the lie upon review. 

Second, this is fraud, plain and simple. Intentionally submitting expenses that would not otherwise be covered under a different name, with the hopes of getting paid out, is the definition of expense fraud. There may be people out there who think it’s funny to attempt this, but I can promise you that your T&E Manager who has to sift through dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of reports a day will not get the joke. 

With AI, companies can detect and reject fraudulent claims like these. Although it seems obvious and an “easy catch,” when taken in the context of one report among many, manual review is not error-proof. Humans could easily miss or misread an item on a report. Yet, nothing falls through the cracks when using AI, which is capable of auditing 100 percent of expense claims, is far more nimble at spotting errors and duplicate payments, and will flag questionable spend like secret burgers.

So before you go submitting that expense for the “Silicone keyboard cover,” ask yourself: Is that $10 burger really worth it? 

To learn how your team can leverage AI to catch and eliminate expense fraud, click here.

Penny Desatnik

Head of Global PR