A former bookkeeper of a construction company pled guilty in federal court on March 14th to embezzling over $600,000 from her employer. In a plea agreement, the 37-year-old pled guilty to a charge of wire fraud and, in exchange, the U.S. Attorney’s Office dropped the other 13 charges.
The Great Falls woman was hired by the construction company as a bookkeeper in 2013. As part of her role she was given access to the company’s business enterprise bank account, according to court documents.
Between 2017 and 2020, the former bookkeeper charged more than $600,000 on her personal credit card accounts for mostly consumer shopping and travel. In order to pay her personal credit card expenses, she directed approximately $611,000 in 72 payments from her former employer’s bank account into her personal accounts without the company’s authorization.
The 37-year-old’s embezzlement scheme was discovered when she purchased a small boutique clothing store in downtown Great Falls, and resigned from the construction company. A new account hired to replace her reviewed the books and determined that more than $600,000 was missing.
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Prevent This From Happening To YOU!
Employee fraud is a real and common occurrence in every type of business and it costs industries billions of dollars a year. It is important to be aware of the potential for employee fraud in your organization and take the necessary steps to prevent them by closing down any opportunities. Below are a few tips to help minimize your risks:
- Begin with your hiring process. Each time you hire a new employee, you’re taking a risk. An appropriate background screening system can be one tool to mitigate that risk.
- Minimize employees’ access to information. One of the biggest opportunities to prevent fraud, especially by employees, is to implement clear processes and controls across the company.
- Get help. If you are suspicious of fraud, act quickly – but not on your own.
- Establish the consequences. Determining the best way to handle employee accounting fraud usually involves reviewing the circumstances of the specific fraud and the monetary loss incurred. Potential consequences can include employee termination and/or legal action.
Click here to learn more about the above Fraud Prevention Tips.
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