Over the past year, the DA’s Office has filed more than 100 felony cases involving employee theft or embezzlement in San Diego County. Unfortunately, employee theft occurs more often than one would like to believe and many times the theft is committed by the person charged with keeping the financial records for the company or preparing the payroll. Many cases go unreported because some businesses are unsure as to how to proceed or how to organize the information to present to law enforcement.
To help potential victims prepare the documents and information necessary to successfully report embezzlement to law enforcement, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Division has added a page to its public website that contains an informational video, a checklist and complaint organizational outline.
“We’re looking out for the business community and embezzlement has serious consequences for business owners and managers because they not only involve a loss of money to businesses, they also constitute a breach of trust,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “To pursue justice in these cases, we rely heavily on the victims’ ability to provide sufficient documentation and we hope that this new webpage will serve as a step-by-step guide for people to understand what they need to do to enable law enforcement and prosecutors to determine if an embezzlement crime occurred and whether it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The DA’s office has prosecuted cases where the employee merely had an extra payroll paycheck deposited into their own bank account each week for a year. In another case, an employee who was in charge of approving other employee credit card expenses ended up using the business credit card herself to pay her own personal expenses, including her own child’s college tuition and orthodontia work. Unfortunately, no one was watching the person in charge of the credit card use and her activities were not discovered until she was terminated after racking up over $150,000 in unauthorized charges. In most cases, there is a true sense of betrayal in embezzlement cases since the employers or owners are shocked to learn that their trusted employee deceived them while pretending to be a loyal co-worker— and many times even a friend.
It is necessary for investigators, prosecutors, the judge and possibly a jury to understand what occurred. They rely primarily on the facts and documents provided by the business that was victimized, which is why documenting and organizing the material is critical.
The public can now visit this website link, where they will find the resources to help them understand what they need to submit to their local law enforcement agency when they report an embezzlement crime. While submitting the appropriate records and information is critical to reviewing potential embezzlement and white collar crimes, submission to the DA’s Office does not guarantee a case will be filed. Prosecutors must still carefully review the materials and conduct further investigation to determine if potential criminal charges can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.