Embezzlement occurs more than business owners would like to think. Even if a company performs a background check on employees and takes other precautions to prevent financial crimes, dishonest employees can still find ways to commit fraud or embezzlement. Sometimes the crimes are committed out of financial despair, other times they are simply crimes of opportunity. Conducting regular audits is a good way to discover dishonest activities in companies of any size.
The assistant manager of a Houston area bank was fired after an audit in July 2011 alerted bank officials to missing funds. A subsequent investigation found that the woman had been stealing money from the accounts of elderly patrons and customers who lived out of state—she targeted those who did not visit the bank. Additional money was taken from teller boxes. In all, the woman embezzled $124,000. The former assistant manager was arrested in January 2013 and recently sentenced to two years in federal prison and ordered to pay $55,000 in restitution.
Business owners who suspect an employee may be embezzling funds may want to hire an attorney to conduct an investigation. This will ensure that you don’t inadvertently violate the rights of the employee, and make your company vulnerable to a civil lawsuit. Once the investigation is complete, a lawyer can also offer advice on the best way to get your money back, whether that includes criminal charges, civil charges or both. Even if your company is awarded restitution from criminal proceedings, it is not always enough to repay the entire debt as evidenced in this case. Victims of embezzlement still have the legal right to file a civil lawsuit to seek additional restitution.
Source: KZTV10.com, “Fired Houston Banker Sentenced for Embezzlement,” Associated Press, Sep. 9, 2013.