Bookkeeper Embezzeled Thousands from Employer
September 1, 2011
Lieutenant Bob Hansen of the Medford Police Department in Oregon has some advice for employers: “It will cost a little to hire a background check, but it’s well worth it.” This after a bookkeeper at Mellelo Coffee Roasters was arrested on charges of first-degree aggravated theft and five counts of first-degree theft for embezzling more than $40,000 for the company’s coffers.
When the Medford police did a little digging, they found a pattern of theft that began in 2008 including theft of cash and doctoring books to hide losses.
No need for me to get on my soapbox on this. We all know the moral of this story. However if you know me, brevity is not my forte, so I thought I would share a personal story.
My grandfather and uncle owned real estate development company in the 70’s and 80’s and their most trusted employee was in fact, their bookkeeper. For the sake of protecting the guilty, we’ll call this person “Mary”. Mary was like family. They trusted her with everything and compensated her well. Sometime in the late 80’s they either noticed unaccounted expenses or had some type of financial audit.
You can imagine their surprise when they found out that Mary had stolen tens of thousands of dollars over the years. And remember, that kind of money was no chump change back then (nor is it now). Now, of course the concept of a background check wouldn’t catch on with your average employer until the 90’s, so I can’t really fault them for not performing proper due diligence before hiring her. However, this did teach me an important lesson which is that any one can steal from you. We’ve seen it with trusted employees, consultants and even other family members. Now, that background checks are the norm, it’s important to use them, whether you are hiring a friend, or a friend of a friend or a complete stranger.