Let us say you work for a profitable Orange County software developer. Money is disappearing and investigators are beginning to look into a possible embezzlement scheme.

You are on the list of suspects. What should you do?

Having legal access

If, say, you are a member of middle management, work in the finance department and have legal access to company funds, you are in a perfect position to implement an embezzlement plan alone or participate in one with others. On the other hand, you are also in the perfect position for another employee, likely the guilty party, to point a finger at you.

California Penal Code 508

Enacted as far back as 1872, Section 508 of the California Penal Code states: “Every clerk, agent, or servant of any person who fraudulently appropriates to his own use, or secretes with a fraudulent intent to appropriate to his own use, any property of another which has come into his control or care by virtue of his employment as such clerk, agent, or servant, is guilty of embezzlement.”

A closer look

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, companies across the country lose approximately $50 billion annually due to employee dishonesty and theft. One of the more surprising statistics is that about 75 percent of all workers perpetrate a company theft at least once in their careers. Even more surprising, however, is that about 75 percent of employee crimes like embezzlement go undetected.

Seeking help

Data compiled by the American Society of Employers shows that many of the employees who commit theft are managers in supervisory positions, a group to which you belong. However, the data also shows that employees are often aware of embezzlement schemes or other company-related crimes involving their coworkers. Of course, awareness is one thing, trying to pin embezzlement on a coworker to direct attention away from an employee’s own actions is something else again. Whether you are involved in embezzlement activities or not, you are a suspect. The fact that investigators are coming in is a sign that you should explore your legal options without delay.