Embezzlement is one of the most common white-collar charges filed against individuals. Employees in a variety of different roles may have access to business resources. If they engage in serious misconduct, their employers may eventually ask state prosecutors to hold them criminally accountable.
Embezzlement allegations may arise when a business believes that a worker misappropriated company resources. Obviously, someone blatantly stealing from a company, possibly by taking money from a client’s account or diverting funds from a checking account, could face embezzlement accusations.
Other, seemingly innocent conduct could also lead to embezzlement charges. What actions could lead to a worker’s prosecution when they haven’t taken money directly from their employer?
1. Taking physical property
Perhaps the business upgraded computers throughout the office. Often, organizations will arrange to resell old equipment, including computers, as a way to recoup the money invested in the original purchase or upgrade. Other times, the plan may be to donate used items to obtain a tax write-off. Workers who take old furniture or electronics home may deprive the company of money or tax benefits. Even retaining items scheduled for transfer and destruction could lead to embezzlement allegations in some cases.
2. Misusing company cards
It is common for businesses to give certain professionals access to corporate expense accounts. They may also allow workers to submit receipts for reimbursement. Some workers may try to pass off personal purchases and expenses as company costs. They might put gas in their own vehicle or go out for dinner with friends and then claim it was a meeting with the client. Such actions could lead to allegations of embezzlement.
3. Overcharging clients
Someone who goes above and beyond while providing service to clients might want to charge extra for the services they provided. They might invoice a client for more than the appropriate amount and then retain the difference. This practice can be hard to track, especially if someone only engages in this behavior when they know someone will pay with cash. However, it could damage the company’s reputation and cause it to lose clients in the future.
Every alleged embezzlement scenario is unique. Oftentimes, there is a perfectly good explanation for what has been perceived as wrongdoing. As a result, fighting back against embezzlement charges can potentially help people avoid incarceration, financial penalties and career-ending consequences.