You would never dream of stealing from your employer or any of the company’s clients. The idea of writing yourself a check or taking money from the petty cash drawer may offend your sense of personal ethics. You would never void transactions to pocket the cash or overcharge the clients so that you can keep the difference in funds.
In addition to the matter of integrity, you know that your employer could eventually uncover such behavior and possibly terminate your position or prosecute you. People in corporate America don’t always realize how inclusive the term embezzlement actually is. Far more behaviors fall under the umbrella of embezzlement than you might imagine.
You don’t have to steal from your employer or a client to face accusations of embezzlement. Misusing a company credit card could lead to embezzlement charges as well.
Expense cards can be a dangerous employment perk
Whether you travel for sales and service calls or help manage the needs of recent recruits who are new to the area, you may have access to a company expense card. You can use the card for fuel in your fleet vehicle, meals when taking clients out for a sales pitch or accommodations while on the road.
You simply have to submit receipts to your employer. Some companies only require receipts with no detailed explanation whatsoever. It is far too easy for people to become comfortable with the use of a company expense card and start using it for frivolous personal charges.
They might take a friend out for dinner and try to claim it was a client meeting or go to prestigious businesses for meals and lodging for personal gratification rather than choosing a more reasonable option, like long-term stay hotels that cater to business professionals. If your employer discovers a history of questionable expense charges, they might punish you or even bring criminal charges against you.
How do you defend against embezzlement charges?
When your employer has years of credit card receipts, you may feel like it is impossible to defend yourself even if you had no nefarious intentions when using company resources. However, a careful review of the evidence can lead to a defense strategy that creates enough of a reasonable doubt to avoid conviction.
Learning more about what makes you vulnerable to white-collar criminal charges like embezzlement can help you protect yourself and your career.