Leading Forensic Experts Investigate Employee Embezzlement

Experienced, credentialed investigators help remedy fraud against your company or clients

Shock. Betrayal. Fear of scandal. These are natural reactions to learning that one or more of your employees may have been stealing from your company or your clients. Shock and betrayal, because the suspect is someone in whom you’ve placed a great amount of trust. Fear, because this revelation could do great damage to your company’s morale and reputation. You might also worry that your firm cannot recover from the financial losses. Then how do you proceed? First, you need to consult your legal counsel. Next, you should contact North American Forensic Accounting. NAFA is comprised of experts in fraud investigation. We know how to conduct thorough, impartial, and effective investigations that get results. We can assemble the evidence you need to seek a resolution in civil or criminal court and demand restitution for your losses.

Understanding the crime of embezzlement

Individuals who handle other people’s money can be strongly tempted to help themselves to a portion. When an employee with access and opportunity steals funds that belong to the company or one of its clients, that’s embezzlement. Embezzlement, like larceny, is a nonviolent theft crime. What distinguishes embezzlement is that:

  • The offender is an employee whose position of trust provides access to funds
  • The taking requires a certain level of professional skill to accomplish and cover up

These elements make embezzlement a classic type of white-collar crime. Embezzlement violates the ethical rules of a profession and can create a scandal that imperils the reputation of the entire company.

Why are some companies vulnerable to embezzlement?

Companies must be vigilant about employees at all levels converting company assets for their own use. Violations run the gamut from using the printer for personal documents to redirecting brokerage fund assets to their own accounts. The reasons employees embezzle assets vary, of course, but the following elements are often present:

  • Loose controls over business processes — People are only human, and it’s tempting to think about supplementing your pay with a little rake-off. What keeps most people in line is the fear of discovery and consequences. When it becomes clear that management isn’t watching closely enough to notice when funds go missing, the temptation grows. When workers know that others are getting away with “dipping into the till,” the temptation to join in can be overwhelming.
  • Excess trust — About 96 percent of employees who embezzle have never had a serious brush with the law. On average, they serve about eight years with a company before hatching an embezzlement scheme. For these reasons, employers trust them completely, which provides the opportunity to commit the crime.
  • Resentment — When workers are more or less honest, they need some sort of justification for crossing ethical and moral lines. Many justify embezzlement because of hard feelings over perceived mistreatment. The company may have passed them over for a promotion or failed to give them sufficient credit for their contributions.
  • Financial stress — You know what you pay your workers, but do you know where their money goes? Many reliable workers are dealing with unfortunate circumstances, like a loved one’s long-term illness or poor investments, that have brought financial hardship. Some even live double lives of drug, alcohol, or gambling addiction. When a person’s own finances are in shambles, it’s unwise to let them handle someone else’s money.

When embezzlement occurs, companies should reevaluate their business processes for deficient controls. NAFA’s internal audit experts can assess your systems for weaknesses and suggest remedies that will strengthen controls. Our antifraud experts can also help you address the human element. We provide training on how to build an ethical corporate culture that deters theft against the company.

Thorough, discreet investigations and robust litigation support for embezzlement cases

As mentioned above, a scandal can exacerbate the damage done by the embezzlement. To keep rumors from circulating which might dispirit your employees and panic your clients, your investigation must be highly professional and discreet. You also want to pursue any leads without violating your workers’ rights or alerting your suspects. NAFA investigators have extensive experience in high-stakes cases of corporate embezzlement. We work cautiously and quietly to gather the data you need to prove the case. Often in embezzlement cases, expert testimony is needed to prove the elements of the crime, i.e., an unlawful act and criminal intent. NAFA examines financial records to find illicit transfers and calculate stolen funds. One such act might be dismissed as negligence, but a pattern of similar transfers can clearly show the intent to defraud. Having found such evidence, our investigators can provide expert witness testimony to bolster your case.

Contact North American Forensic Accounting to combat embezzlement in your organization

As part of our comprehensive litigation support, North American Forensic Accounting investigates alleged embezzlement to prove both act and intent, as well as the amount stolen. To learn more, call us at 347-286-4860 or contact one of our offices online to schedule an appointment. NAFA serves clients from offices throughout the United States, including in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York City, Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, and the Tampa Bay Area.