According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, embezzlement is defined as an act to appropriate (as property entrusted to one’s care) fraudulently to one’s own use. Every day, the local, national and even international news is filled with astounding reports of embezzlement.
While the likes of Bernard Madoff get well-deserved wide ranging media attention, it seems like embezzlement takes place on every level of today business environment. Wherever property is entrusted to one or more individuals, persons seem to treat that property as their own. This act triggers a series of far ranging financial, emotional and criminal events.
When the economy was going strong before the recession, corporate embezzlers felt they could get away with millions. And, they did. But, embezzlement does not always involve unfathomable amounts of property. Surprisingly, it happens on large, medium and small scales. Everywhere form the Little League to the Firehouse to the small, medium or large business.
Discovering, identifying and proving embezzlement is a gut-wrenching, soul searching and involved process with the potential for serious repercussions. In today’s legal environment, the wrong move, the improper handling of embezzlement cases and the depth of protection provided to employees make investigation of embezzlement a treacherous road and not a place for amateur investigation.
Yet, the far-reaching implications of embezzlement make it mandatory to pursue. Embezzlement can lead to business failure, loss of jobs and so many other devastating situations for communities, individuals, businesses and estates that principals must persue the evidence.
Investigating suspected business embezzlement is similar to investigating other acts of employee misconduct. The scope and manner of the investigation is partially determined by the size and complexity of the theft.
Unfortunately, the company that looks the other way or is slow to act is actually enabling a deepening of the crises. And, embezzlement is usually a one-way street that will continue to escalate.
Complicating every aspect of an embezzlement investigation are the rights of the employee that are intertwined with a myriad of protective legislation. These employee protections hinder the employer’s right to thoroughly investigate suspected acts. In fact, improper investigation can lead to counter suits and a multitude of undeserved financial, legal and emotional backlashes.
Whereas all cases of embezzlement are highly sensitive, the use of a qualified and experienced private investigator is recommended. In all cases steps should, only be taken that comply with an employee’s legally protected status.