White-collar crimes are often financial in nature, with different types of white-collar crimes affecting different parties. Fraud may target individuals or businesses, while embezzlement frequently affects employers.
Workers with access to company resources, financial records and physical possessions may engage in behavior that has negative economic repercussions for the company. If the organization eventually uncovers that misconduct, the company may pursue embezzlement charges against the professional implicated.
Most people know that altering the payee on a check or taking actual money from the business would lead to embezzlement charges, but there are other, seemingly minor, infractions that could also constitute embezzlement. What common workplace behaviors might lead to embezzlement charges?
A misuse of company credit cards or expense reimbursements
When workers have to travel for their jobs or must handle operational challenges on the fly, they may need to purchase materials, take clients out to dinner or arrange for travel in some cases. Businesses may either reimburse individuals for purchases made using their own assets or could offer company expense cards that individuals can use to pay for those transactions. Abuse of both systems is a relatively common and well-known form of embezzlement, although workers may not realize they may have violated company policy or crossed an ethical boundary when using the card for certain purposes or asking for reimbursement for questionable purchases.
Taking physical resources
Embezzlement is largely a financial crime, but not all forms of asset misappropriation involved money. People could still office equipment and stamps from a business or merchandise from a retail establishment. The more frequently someone takes physical resources from a business, the higher the total value of those assets and the worse the possible penalties someone faces. Eventually, years of minor misappropriations could add up to thousands of dollars in property.
When companies uncover signs of embezzlement involving expense accounts or physical assets owned by the company, they may terminate the worker implicated or even provide financial records to the local prosecutor or police in the hopes of having someone arrested. Understanding what actually constitutes embezzlement can help people avoid mistakes on the job and also fight back against allegations that they stole from their employer.