Ex-Bookkeeper Sentenced to 29 Months in Federal Prison for Embezzlement

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A San Diego woman, who worked as a bookkeeper for two local companies, embezzled more than $900,000 from her employers. She was sentenced to two years and five months in federal prison. The ex-bookkeeper pleaded guilty to wire fraud counts for taking over $765,000 from Shapery Enterprises and approximately $165,000 from Hope Campbell Reality Inc.

The 64 year-old former bookkeeper worked at Shapery Enterprises from July 2018 to November 2019 where she had access to the business bank account, the company’s American Express Credit Card and accounting programs. She was fired from Shapery Enterprises and the government notified her that she was under investigation for wire fraud.

The San Diego woman later became employed by Hope Campbell Realty as a bookkeeper where, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California, she again abused her position of trust, stealing nearly $165,000 between March 2021 and November 2021. According to FBI Special Agent in Charge, Stacey Moy, the former bookkeeper went to great lengths to defraud not one, but two of her former employers even after learning she was under investigation for wire fraud.

“Sears took advantage of her employers’ trust and treated their bank accounts as her personal piggy bank, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars. This defendant inflicted substantial damage to two San Diego businesses and has been held to account for her conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman.

Click here to read the full release.

Prevent This From Happening To YOU!

Below are a few steps you can take that may help prevent the risk of internal fraud in your accounting department:

  • Establish strong controls: require approvals, signatures, and documentation for transactions, reconcile bank statements regularly, and use secure software and encryption.
  • Train employees on fraud prevention: educate them on the signs of fraud, the consequences of fraud, and the reporting mechanisms for fraud.
  • Regularly review financial statements: check for unusual or unauthorized transactions, discrepancies, or errors.
  • Restrict user rights: limit access to sensitive data, systems, and assets to authorized personnel only, and change passwords frequently.
  • Segregate duties: assign different people to initiate, authorize, record, and reconcile transactions, and rotate or cross-train staff periodically.
  • Get an extra pair of eyes: hire an external auditor, consultant, or CPA to review your financial records and internal controls periodically.

These are some of the best practices that can help a company reduce the risk of internal fraud particularly in its accounting department. However, no system is foolproof, and fraud can still occur despite these measures. Therefore, it is important to be vigilant and proactive in detecting and reporting any suspicious activities or red flags.

Source: www.envoice.eu, journalofaccountancy.com, smallbusiness.chron.com

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