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08-20-2011, 11:24 AM #21
08-20-2011, 11:40 AM #22
That sucks. Sorry to hear it. I hope it all works out in your favor in the end!
08-20-2011, 11:46 AM #23
I know a local company whose book keeper that they had for about a year took them . it turns out that he was awaiting trial on previous charges for defrauding his former employer . He was hired based on good refrences he provided so he must have had an someone to lie for him. i once heard that Opra claimes to sign every check herself. And i suspect thats a lot of checks given the amount of money involved
08-20-2011, 11:59 AM #24
We have business theft insurance that also has embezzlement coverage - but the coverage stipulates accounting rules and oversight requirements. This is fine in that we are big enough that we can go by the rules.
Separate accounts payable and receivable people is the first requirement. You would have to have collusion between the two to pull something like this off.
Also - once the accounting for a month is closed - it can't be edited without an audit trail and it sticks out like a sore thumb in the reports.
without these measures in place - our ability to collect on any insurance would be put into jeopardy.
08-20-2011, 12:19 PM #25
08-20-2011, 12:48 PM #26
08-20-2011, 01:05 PM #27
I am sorry to hear that. It makes my stomach drop and makes me mad at the same time.
I am careful about my accounting. They can take care of the books & stuff, but I have the checkbook.
My ex wife tried to take me to the cleaners like that. She blew about $75k in about 10 months, forged my name on credit cards ,etc.
I managed to keep the house for not pressing charges.
This has made me leery of other people handling my affairs, since then.
I'm glad you caught it now, instead of later.
Get an attorney now. You always hear stories of " If I had gotten an attorney when I first found out........." , or "There is a time limit and I didn't get an attorney".
One customer I used to deal with wouldn't pay. ( 6 months late).
Their office manager would send me payments without the invoice# on them. It would have a stupid note like "stainless parts 2-18-2008".
Some of them had already been paid. I just wanted money for the ones that were past due.
After a call to tell her that the invoices weren't correct she got smart with me and said "Are you refusing payment? You will take what I send and when I send it".
After talking with my accountant, he told me to make out extra invoices for the double payments and call them late fees in my books.
Then, I had to get an attorney to collect the rest of the payments.
I am sure she is embezzling just like you have told us.
What goes around comes around.
Good luck and keep us posted. You may prevent us from being in a similar situation, or show us how to recognize it quicker.
Thanks for sharing a very personal matter.
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08-20-2011, 01:11 PM #28
I signed all the checks, and it still happened.
My accountant told my you never let someone else balance the checkbook. For a small business, I think balancing the checkbook yourself and looking at every cleared check is enough to keep fraudulent checks from being cashed, the next issue is keeping track of credit card transactions, that requires seeing every statement every month.
The local power co. (PPL) called a car dealer friend about a check they received. It was a company check written to a personal account, and for more than the bill. It was written by the GM of the dealership to pay his own home electric bill, it was for a larger amount than one month so it would fit in with the normal dealership electric bill payments and not stand out. PPL had an algorithm in their computers to look for exactly that because it had happened so frequently.
A builder had a large amount taken, the AP woman wrote out checks to pay ghost bills to a lumber supplier, and had a friend at the lumber supplier catching the checks and cashing them, the two of them split the take. Builder did not notice for a while because the bills had PO#s on them, and were for items that he normally purchased - good camouflage.
I'd bet your accountant has done this to more people than just you. It might be interesting what comes out of the woodwork when the poo hits the fan and she is investigated. I'm told by the people involved in my case that many embezzlers never get charged, because of the victims' embarrassment and other issues, and they just move on to the next victim. Case in point, a tag service (auto titles and licenses, etc, PA had private contractors do it instead of DMV offices everywhere) owner friend had a large sum of cash headed for the DMV stolen in a short period of time by a druggie employee(coke heads can be very good employees until they hit bottom). He took out a second mortgage to pay it and never reported it because he didn't want the scandal to affect his public image and cause customers (like car dealers, truckers, etc.)to question his internal security.
I interviewed a woman for an office job. Seemed real promising but went with a man for unrelated reasons. While sitting in the courtroom all day waiting for my ex employee to be resentenced for probation violation (not paying me in the required 5 years) that woman I interviewed stood up in front of the judge for the same thing! Dodged a bullet... Since the patriot act passed, it's real hard to get info on people.
08-20-2011, 02:14 PM #29
Sorry to hear this happened. Everyone has a story.
Place I worked at, the IT director was buying extra computers, taking them home and selling them at flea markets and online. Over the course of some years, it worked out he had stolen $300k.
They got the cops involved, and worked out a deal that he avoided jail time if the money was paid back within 3 years. He had to sell his house, cars, the jewelry he bought for his wife, everything.
The key in these cases is to make sure it's a criminal matter, as was said earlier. The MOMENT it's civil, you lose almost all your leverage. But the threat of going to jail is a lot of leverage. This woman has access to money, whether it's through friends and family, or boyfriends or whatever.
A friend of mine hired a contractor to build a garage. The guy wanted 50% up front for materials and such. The contractor ended up being unable to start the job, but kept the money ($45k). The cops said "sorry, civil matter". He pushed, and got the DA involved, and it became a criminal matter. The guy miraculously came up with the $45k when it was a choice between that and going to jail.
08-20-2011, 02:16 PM #30
Best of luck to you. I'm glad she was caught and hopefully you can recoup most if not all of your money.
At least now the money you make will actually be there at the end of the month.
I believe there is a special place in hell for people like her. I hope she gets to see it soon.
If part of your money isn't recovered, can you take it off of income tax somehow?
08-20-2011, 04:11 PM #31
Also, make sure you're the 'whistleblower of record' with respect to her unpaid taxes on the take. You get a cut of that, too, if I recall. Every little bit helps.
I'd 1099 her ass anyway, even if you don't reach any repayment agreement. It's income to her, and not a gift from you. If it needs straightened out later, you can always amend the paperwork.
08-20-2011, 04:39 PM #32
This looks like a prison term at the very least if she doesn't fall into a nearby woodchipper first.
08-20-2011, 05:49 PM #33
Financial crimes are time consuming to investigate and many smaller jurisdictions don't have the manpower to do so. The cops may try to marginalize such cases. Keep bumping it up the chain till you get a proper hearing. Your county or state may have a financial crime task force. ( In California, for instance, to handle the case load, all financial cases are tried in one district regardless of the district where the crime was committed.) I'd call you DA right away just so he is aware of your case. That will ensure the police don't lose the file somewhere.
Resign yourself to doing as much of the digging as you can yourself. PI, auditor or whatever. The cops don't have the manpower. You can't harass her or her business associates ( she can sue ) but if you have dealings with any common customers or employers and the subject just happens to come up, who knows what you might learn?
Does she deposit her trash on the curb? Start raiding her trash at night and carting it home. Are the cars in her driveway her's or does she hide her assets by putting them in a family members name? ( Take photos of the license plates and pay someone to stand in line at the dmv for the ownership records if the cop won't look it up.) If she drives the car, especially if she uses it for business, then it can be attached regardless of the name on the registration.
Go to the county's recorders office and look up all recordings in her name, she may have other properties or rental income or mortgage income. This the court's recovery expert would eventually find, after the trial, but the sooner your attorney can file against the property the better. If she, or her relatives, have other properties then check those for vehicles also.
Did she do any work at home? Did she run errands for you in her car? Can you prove it? If so her home and car are a crime scene and the cops can search it.
Expect at some point for her to counter-attack. She may sue for harassment or even be bold enough to sue you for fraud or rape. It doesn't have to be true to cause you grief and a counter suit is much more common than one would think. If you see her on the street don't say anything, just cross to the other side.
Try to find allies in you fight, businessmen, lawyers, reporters, the DA. Every little bit helps and the process can make you feel very alone.
Been there, my best wishes go out to you.
08-21-2011, 12:28 AM #34
Here's another form of "embellishment";
My brother was in business in Austin, Tx back in the boom days when alot of upscale residential construction was going on. His company installed alarm systems, wiring for music systems, central vacuum systems, & the like. They even had a centralized bug killer, with a large insecticide tank, that squirted a little puff of bug killer at timed intervals around the outside of the house.
Anyway there came a time when he & his (50%) pardner were having inventory problems, as well as losing bids to a new company. The pardner seemed not to be bothered as much as the situation seemed to indicate, which raised my brother's suspicions. He hired a detective (on the sly) and found the pardner was coming back to the warehouse after hours, and carting off supplies & inventory, and delivering them to his brother-in-laws house, who was DBA "Ace Installations", the company who was beating all my brother's bids! "Ace Installations" was using day labor, and getting materials at a 50% discount, (the pardners share of the original purchases) plus knowing exactly what to bid on the jobs.
When this shook out, my brother was told, by the DA, there was no crime, unless he took more then 50% of the business assets!
There's always an opportunity for a civil suit, a long drawn out money pit benefiting only lawyers.
08-21-2011, 04:47 AM #35
08-21-2011, 05:12 AM #36
IMHO that was irresponsible. The accountant should have been prosecuted. Someone else will now be the next victim...
08-21-2011, 05:24 AM #37
Expecting Jim Rozen to chime in soon....
The insurance and healthcare situation here in the US is such a mess I'm not surprised more of these cases don't appear. I'd hazard to guess that illegal immigrants in incarceration get better health care than most of us US citizens do.
08-21-2011, 05:27 AM #38
As with ANY TYPE of case or charge, the powers that be (cops, prosecutors, judges, etc...) just handle it in whatever way grabs them at the moment. Isn't that COOL and FAIR and MORAL of them!?!? If they feel it's time to "make an example" of someone or whatever, or just don't like the way a guy or girl looks, well..."F*uck 'em!!! It ain't ME" is how they OBVIOUSLY look at it! That and being lazy, doing favors for friends or money, combine to make it as illogical as conceivable!
08-21-2011, 05:45 AM #39
Sounds like your book keeper had a pretty good little scam going. Based on your description of her living conditions, it's highly unlikely she came up with it herself. It was either taught to her by a junky boyfriend in the past, or she read it on the internet.
A friend of mine had the same problem, but the book keeper only got about $20K. Her plan was not very bright. She got the job, started paying the bills, and then looked for a vendor that used a 3 letter abbreviation for their name. Her husband went and started a "business" and bank account with the same 3 letter abbreviation, and she started bringing the checks home instead of sending them to the actual vendor. Obviously you can see that this backfired when my buddy was put on credit hold by the vendor, and he looked at all of the checks he'd signed which somehow never made it to their destination.
The bank who hosted the account of the fraudsters paid back all of the fraudulent funds on the spot.
I like Bob's idea for keeping the checks locked up. Pretty clever as well!
08-21-2011, 06:00 AM #40
Recently the parole office in my town, which is right across from the shop, was burned down. The guy who did it poured a bucket of gas through the window, tossed in a match, and then sat down and waited for the cops to arrive. He had visited the office earlier in the day in an attempt to be incarcerated peacefully, but he failed.