You have been a loyal employee at a small California business for many years. Perhaps it is a family business, and you feel as if you are part of the family. You arrive early, stay late and take pride in your unique system of organizing the office and the company books. In fact, you prefer that no one else get involved with the finances because it may mess up your system.
While all these factors may make you a model employee, they are also red flags to a business owner that you may be embezzling money from the company. If you are the only one who handles the money or your employer has placed special trust in you, you may find fingers pointing at you when money goes missing.
Are you the target of an investigation?
If someone discovers a discrepancy in the business accounts, missing cash or another anomaly, your employer may begin an internal investigation. It may not be long before the police are involved, and you may be the subject of their inquiry. Investigators must provide evidence of the following four factors in order to present a case for embezzlement:
- You had a fiduciary duty to your employer that included the responsibility of handling the business' finances or products. Your employer trusted you to fulfill this duty.
- You used your position of trust to obtain money or property that belonged to the company.
- You actually took the money or property, or you transferred it to another person.
- You did this intentionally so that you could benefit from the money or property.
Investigators will be looking for ways you may have covered up the missing funds, for example by creating false accounts, manipulating the records or failing to deposit payments. They may also scrutinize your personal life and behavior, such as whether you are going through a divorce, if you have recently taken a trip or if you have made any extravagant purchases.
What to do next?
Even if all trails lead back to you, investigators will need to prove that your actions were intentional and for the purpose of your personal gain. It is possible that you did not intend to embezzle the money or that someone pressured you into the illegal actions. No matter the reason, you face serious penalties if you are charged and convicted of embezzlement. In addition to criminal charges, you also face a civil complaint that could cost you dearly.
Before speaking to investigators, whether internal or external, you would be wise to reach out for legal representation. An embezzlement conviction can have lifelong ramifications, and you have the right to defend against the accusations.