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What is embezzlement?

When an employee misappropriates or steals money from his or her employer, it is embezzlement. This type of employee theft is different than pure stealing. This is because the employee has permission to handle the assets in a particular way, but not to use it for his or her enrichment. 

Embezzling money may be a crime and a civil violation. Here is a guide to this white color crime. 

Examples of embezzlement

These are some tactics employees may use to embezzle money:

  • Taking cash from a register
  • Charging more for a product and taking the difference
  • Taking work supplies or inventory for personal use
  • Taking bribes
  • Transferring money from a customer account to a personal one
  • Hiding stolen amounts or losses in accounting books
  • Taking customer refunds for personal use
  • Making payroll checks out to fake employees

Embezzlement may mean taking physical assets or doing so electronically. A lot of embezzlement and other white collar crimes are carried out via the computer using sophisticated methods. 

Criminal and civil penalties

When someone embezzles funds, he or she may face criminal charges. The punishments may include giving back the money (restitution), paying a fine or doing time in prison. However, due to the fact that embezzlement is also a civil wrong, there may be further consequences for an embezzler. 

For example, the employer may file a lawsuit against the embezzler in civil court. If there is a civil judgment, the embezzler may face wage garnishment, withdrawing funds from a bank account, a property lien or a seizure of property. 

Embezzlement takes many forms. Due to a wide range of activities that may count as embezzlement, it may be confusing to understand exactly what it is. While this information may help people make sense of this white collar crime, someone who faces allegations of embezzlement should not hesitate to speak to a criminal defense lawyer about the specifics of his or her case.

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