Quick Reaction Force (QRF) Litigation Team
Urgent legal action is needed against anyone embezzling from your company. If occasion arises, QRF will immediately focus its efforts on taking immediate steps which could mean filing for a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction or helping you seek to vindicate your civil and criminal rights by putting you in contact with the authorities. Our capabilities are lightning-fast. Our vast knowledge enables us to work collaboratively to help you obtain all available legal remedies.
The crime of embezzlement occurs when a person who was entrusted to monitor or manage someone else’s property or money steals the property or money for his or her own personal gain. Embezzlement is a type of property theft when the theft is carried out in violation of the alleged offender’s position of trust with regard to the stolen property or money. This expectation of trust combined with the alleged offender’s legal right to possess or access the property or money in question, is what sets embezzlement apart from other theft crimes, like larceny. In order for a person to be found guilty of embezzlement, that person must have had legal access to the other person’s property or money, but not legal ownership of it.
The official meaning of embezzlement as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice is “the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom such property has been entrusted, or into whose hands it has lawfully come. It differs from larceny in that the original taking was lawful, or with the consent of the owner, while in larceny the felonious intent must have existed at the time of the taking.” Embezzlement can occur in any type of business relationship where a special position of trust or fiduciary relationship exists between the defendant and the alleged victim.
When an employer is first confronted with suspected embezzlement, the employer generally has four objectives:
1. to determine whether there was an actual theft;
2. to determine the total amount and method(s) of the theft;
3. to remove the wrongdoers from the workplace and take remedial actions to prevent such conduct and losses from occurring in the future; and
4. to recover the money or property lost.
Examples of Embezzlement
1. Forging Checks: The employee writes company checks or makes electronic payments to himself, often times using a company signature stamp. The employee then hides the theft in the company ledger.
2. Faking Vendor Payments: The employee steals company funds but hides them as payments to vendors, by creating false vendor invoices and changing the accounting system in the company ledger.
3. Overbilling Customers: The employee overbills customers and keeps the extra money, adjusting the company ledger by making false accounting entries.
4. Theft of Customer Credit Card Data: An employee takes a phone order and later uses the customer’s credit card data to charge personal purchases online. A gas station employee may use a device to obtain credit card data from terminals at gas pumps.
5. Padding an Expense Account: An employee charges a personal item or meal and claims that purchase as a business expense.
6. Double Dipping: There is a single legitimate business expense but the employee submits a credit card receipt and a cash reimbursement request and receives two reimbursements.
7. Using a Company Credit Card for Personal Use: The employee pays for personal expenses using a company credit card.
8. Voiding Transactions at the Cash Register: The employee at the cash register voids a transaction and keeps the cash.
9. Stealing from Cash Deposits: The employee steals from the cash deposit bag before depositing the bag at the bank.
10. Stealing from the Petty Cash Box or Safe: The employee takes cash out of the safe or the petty cash box.
11. Stealing Cash from Fundraisers: The employee steals charitable donations for personal use.
12. Stealing Office Supplies: The employee steals company office supplies for personal use (postage stamps, note pads, coffee/kitchen supplies, etc.).
13. Stealing Equipment, Products or Raw Materials: Employee can hide company equipment in a backpack or dumpster and steal it for personal use.
14. Burglarizing Company Premises: The employee leaves a door unlocked or uses a key to gain entry after hours.
15. Stealing Returned Merchandise: The employee steals returned items for personal use or resells them on the internet.
16. Claiming Company Property was Lost: The employee gives company property to a family member or steals for personal use and then claims the property was lost.
17. Setting up Fake Employees: The employee creates a fake employee and retains the pay and makes a false entry in the company ledger.
18. Falsifying Overtime: The employee may enlist another employee and they sign each other in and out or a payroll clerk creates false entries of overtime that he then pays himself.
19. Failing to Remit Payroll Tax Money: The employee embezzles money earmarked for the employer’s payroll tax remittances or other tax money.
20. Collecting Kickbacks from Vendors: The employee receives vendor kickbacks in a variety of forms, that the employee uses for personal use.
21. Selling Trade Secrets; Corporate Espionage: The employee sells sensitive information to a competitor. The employee takes confidential documents and trade secrets with him to another job.
22. Business Identity Theft: The employee secures a line of credit or loan in the company name, then uses the money for personal use and uses company funds to make the loan payments.
23. Starting a Business using Company Resources: The employee uses company resources such as a software code in the employee’s new business.
Recovering the Losses
Depending on whether the loss is insured, and if so, the amount of the deductible, the employer may wish to file a civil action to recover its losses. Another avenue to consider is criminal prosecution. It is important to note that both the civil action and criminal prosecution options are matters of public record and the employer must weigh the consequences that any adverse publicity could cause, including the impact on its customers. Similarly, the employer should consider whether the absence of civil or criminal prosecution against the wrongdoer will convey an inappropriate message to other employees.
It’s important to know that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), as construed by the courts, prohibits any type of garnishment, attachment or constructive trust remedy by an employer with respect to pension and profit-sharing plans covered by ERISA, even in cases involving a terminated employee's embezzlement against the employer. However, should the employee voluntarily request distribution of his or her benefits, upon receipt of the monies, the employee can voluntarily give the money to the employer. Care must be taken, however, to avoid any appearance of undue coercion or duress by the employer as to any distribution request and turnover of monies from an employee's ERISA accounts.
Embezzlement cases are often complex and involve complicated financial questions. As a result, our QRF team conducts in-depth investigations to build our client’s case. Unlike most crimes, the victim in an embezzlement allegation is usually the accused’s employer or company. This means law enforcement agencies can acquire relevant documentation without having to obtain a warrant.
Effective Defense Against Embezzlement Charges:
An embezzlement conviction can result in steep fines and prison time. The specific penalties for embezzlement vary widely and will depend upon the classification of the charges (felony or misdemeanor), the circumstances of your case (mitigating or aggravating) and such factors as your criminal history. The repercussions of a conviction can extend beyond the scope of the immediate penalties and have a long-term negative impact on your future.
Our QRF embezzlement defense lawyers can mean the difference between receiving severe penalties or a dismissal of all charges. Our lawyers will provide an expert embezzlement defense QRF team who will prepare a strategy tailored to your specific case, with the aim of avoiding jail time entirely and securing the most lenient penalties possible.
Unrivaled Embezzlement Defense
Your first best defensive strategy is the acquisition of an experienced embezzlement defense teams of attorneys who can intervene in the earliest stages of your case. Our QRF team of embezzlement defense lawyers are ready to negotiate on your behalf.
If embezzlement charges have already been filed against you, our QRF team will take on the complexities of the case with an expert approach that seeks to augment mitigating circumstances while reducing the negative impact of aggravating circumstances.
Our attorneys understand the specific elements of an embezzlement charge that the prosecution will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and will utilize their expertise to closely examine your case and provide an aggressive defense.