Employee theft is something that no business owner wants to experience. Unfortunately, the culprit is often a trusted employee who has never complained about working overtime and without vacations. Under the law, embezzlement is essentially a theft and can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Sound complicated? Here are a few concrete examples to help explain employee theft:
The Girl Scout Case
Yes, even Girl Scouts can be guilty of embezzlement. In 2011, Christa Utt was a Girl Scout troop leader in Oklahoma. Instead of taking the cookies, she decided to keep the profits from the annual cookie sales. Troop leaders became aware of her activities, to the tune of $5,300 and Utt was ultimately convicted.
If you notice a combination of the following warning signs, it will be well worth your while to start investigating.
There are several safeguards you can put into place to help ensure your business isn't becoming the victim of employee theft. You can conduct periodic and unannounced audits, perform background checks of all new employees, and keeping paper checks in a secure, locked area are just a few ways you can protect your company.
Getting Legal Help
If you suspect an employee of embezzlement, there are a number of tools at your disposal, including contacting law enforcement. However, a good first step is to speak to an experienced business and commercial law attorney who can help guide you through the often difficult process. Investigating the situation before making accusations is in everyone's best interests.