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Could you unintentionally be guilty of embezzlement at work?

| Jul 17, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Embezzlement is one of the more notorious forms of theft, in part because it involves an individual manipulating a position of trust granted to them by an employer for their personal gain. The violation of that relationship is one of the reasons why embezzlement can carry worse penalties and increased social stigma when compared with other forms of non-violent theft.

In the eyes of many people, embezzlement is an offense that involves someone taking or transferring money that should belong to their employer for their own personal benefit. While embezzlement often does involve the direct misappropriation of company funds, that is far from the only situation in which a worker could wind up accused of embezzlement.

There are other ways that you might unknowingly commit this common white-collar criminal offense.

Embezzlement could involve inappropriate reimbursement claims

If your company gives staff members business cards to cover work-related expenses or if they have an expense reimbursement process that requires that you submit receipts, abuse of that system could quickly turn into embezzlement.

For example, you might try to submit receipts for a lunch that you had with your spouse or a friend and claim that you met with a client. You could also outright lie about what the purchase involves, possibly by buying personal electronic equipment and then claiming you got a printer for the office when what you brought in was really the old one from your house. While this may seem like a harmless crime, if your employer catches you, you could find yourself facing embezzlement allegations.

Embezzlement doesn’t always involve money

People wrongly believed that embezzlement only involves improper use of company funds, but embezzlement could also involve physical assets. Although the chances are good that your company isn’t going to bring embezzlement charges against you for bringing sticky notes or a box of pens home from the supply room, they may take notice and legal action if you take more valuable equipment, such as computer chairs, electronics or even inventory intended for a retail business.

Accusations of embezzlement don’t just carry criminal penalties. They can also permanently impact your ability to get a good job. Fighting back against allegations of embezzlement is of the utmost importance for your future stability.

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