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Embezzlement costs your company a lot of moneyWhat Does Embezzlement Look Like in Your Workplace?

After several recent studies, it is estimated that embezzlement is becoming so rampant in today’s businesses that it is actually quite commonplace.  Unfortunately, as common as embezzlement is, it is also causing ordinary businesses to suffer unprecedented losses.  Some of the estimates that resulted from the aforementioned studies have indicated that approximately $400 billion is stolen by way of employee embezzlement every year in the United States alone. 

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I work for a company where pay is based on commission.I noticed last month my collections for the company were substantially lower than normal (along with other employees). We've had countless meetings and no one could figure...
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Embezzlement occurs within businesses of every size, industry, and purpose, regardless of what goods or services are sold, and how much integrity the actual company may hold.  It is a sad statement about today’s society when it must be agreed that a well prepared company that intends to remain successful must also have a policy in place for preventing and dealing with embezzlement within its walls.

If embezzlement is suspected in your company, there are several different things that can be done, all of which begin with an investigation into the suspected embezzlement to find out its details and its source.  This investigation process is quite comparable to other employee misconduct investigations.  The degree and method of the investigation that you will need to employ will depend on the type, complexity, and overall size of the suspected embezzlement.

Naturally, as is the case when any investigation is underway, it is the right of the employer to look into all of the facts and circumstances that have to do with the incident.  This can become quite involved, as many circumstances around embezzlement don’t occur in a straight line, but are rather intertwined with many different laws, occurrences, and other employees who may or may not have been aware of their involvement.

The most common objectives of employers who suspect embezzlement within their company include the following four:

  1. determining if the embezzlement actually occurred
  2. finding out the total amount of the theft, and how it occurred
  3. removing the culprits from the workplace and taking further actions to make sure that the theft does not continue into the future
  4. recovering money or property that has been wrongfully taken.

It is extremely uncommon for employees to be caught embezzling through direct observation.  Instead, embezzlement is usually suspected from indirect means, such as through circumstantial evidence for example through an audit or report of another employee.  If embezzlement is suspected, it is vital that the employer act immediately to investigate and discipline the culprit(s).

Among the first actions taken by the employer is talking with the managers and supervisors who may be directly involved in the losses resulting from the embezzlement.  These people should take part in the investigation and reinforcement of the need for privacy and confidentiality.  Such confidentiality is important in these investigations for two primary reasons: to avoid exposing defamatory claims and to avoid premature disclosure of the information and suspicions to the wrong people – especially when the extent of the embezzlement and the number of people involved still hasn’t quite been determined.

From there, identification is vital, and then the investigation process depends on the circumstances and details.  It is the speed of the initial steps that is most critical to successful management of embezzlement in a company.


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