Business Fraud and Embezzlement
“In modern business it is not the crook who is to be feared most, it is the honest man who doesn’t know what he is doing.”
I recently came across a Facebook article about a former bookkeeper who pled guilty to two grand theft embezzlement charges and two felony identity theft charges after stealing a total of $685,000 between 2007 and 2012 — $325,000 from her full-time employer and an additional $360,000 from a second, part-time employer.
While the story of what allegedly took place is gut-wrenching, the store’s owner delivered the following message:
“I’m telling this story so other small business can be aware of what can happen to them once someone steals your trust,” [Owner] said. “No matter how good you think your bookkeeper is, or how much you trust them, you better be routinely checking your bank statements. Unfortunately, this is an all too familiar story that has been repeated over and over throughout history. If we had just implemented a few theft prevention policies and procedures — it would have saved both companies a lot of money. We’ve made it through the worse time — we survived this unimaginable nightmare. We certainly learned some important lessons … to survive, we made some adjustments in how we do business and today the company is more efficient than ever and we plan on becoming a bigger and better company after all this.”
As an individual who has investigated and studied crimes against businesses for over four decades, I should add that while the above owner’s focus was on his bookkeeper, the fact is that, wherever people are employed, opportunities abound for a dishonest individual to steal literally hundreds, thousands, or millions of dollars from their employer with little fear of detection! Bottom-line, internal fraud and embezzlement crimes are taking place in hundreds, if not thousands of organizations throughout the United States and could be happening in your business right now . . . But how would you know? That is the question, is it not?
My goal is to use this blog to help all types of organizations minimize their risk to internal fraud and embezzlement. In my upcoming posts, I will introduce you to a few of the more critical things that I have learned, and also provide a few easy to implement tips on ways to significantly reduce your organization’s risk to these crimes.
Jack L. Hayes