There isn’t a week that goes by without a story making headlines about someone who embezzled money from their workplace. But why?. Why would someone steal money that isn’t theirs, when the chances of getting caught are so high? Surely they don’t want to go to prison, do they? Well, of course they don’t want to go to prison! But in most cases, it didn’t start out with someone looking at a pile of cash and thinking, “I wonder if I’ll end up behind bars at the Michigan Department of Corrections?”
So who’s behind these financial crimes? The answer may surprise you!
In a study done by the Boston consulting firm Marquet International, the average embezzler is a person in their late 40s with no prior criminal record. Any other characteristics that stick out? Yes – gender. More often than not, embezzlers are women. In fact, one study found that in almost two-thirds of major embezzlement cases, the defendants are women. That’s definitely consistent with the experience of our own Michigan criminal defense attorneys.
The question though, is why? What drives these people to steal someone else’s money, or rob their workplace? Dr. Donald Cressey, who is considered to be the founder of the modern study of organized crime, began looking for an explanation in his 1950 PhD dissertation on criminology. He interviewed hundreds of convicted embezzlers, and then published a research study titled, “People’s Money: A Study in Social Psychology of Embezzlement” in 1953. It inspired the model still used today, which criminologists use to explain why people commit workplace theft.
What do the experts say about why people embezzle money?
It seems the answer to that question, according to Dr Cressey’s findings, is threefold: pressure, opportunity and rationalization. Here’s a breakdown of what that means:
This refers to the financial pressure that a person feels, which would lead them to consider stealing money in the first place. People who feel like their needs are being met do not feel pressure to find additional sources of money. However, people whose lifestyles or addictions are expensive often feel the need for more money. Classic examples are people with addictions that are expensive to support (like drugs, or shopping), people with gambling problems, and people who are in serious debt.
The fact that the person who needs money happens to work in a place where they have access to it, provides them with the perfect opportunity. The fact that they can access the cash and keep it a secret works in their favor. They create false invoices and create a forged papertrail to cover the theft. It rarely, if ever, stays hidden for long. But that’s never stopped anyone before!
As Dr. Cressey found, most people who commit fraud, theft or embezzlement in the workplace usually have no criminal history and are first-time offenders. And despite the fact that they steal from their jobs, most of them still believe that they are “good people.” This is because they’re in denial about what they’re doing, and they rationalize their actions. Common ralionatizations are usually something like, “I’m doing this to support my family”, or “I’m just borrowing the money and I’ll pay it back before anyone notices!”
Financial crime charges in Michigan are very seriously punished!
Once a company discovers, through its bank, CPA or auditors, that there are bookkeeping irregularities, they usually decide to conduct an in-house investigation. If this investigation turns up errors in bank account records, or financial records that have been altered, they will most likely turn the issue over to the local police. At this point, criminal charges are sure to follow!
If you or a loved one have been accused of embezzlement in Michigan, you are up against some very serious charges! Even a misdemeanor embezzlement conviction can result in jail time, probation, and loss of future employment opportunities. So don’t delay! Call 866 766 5245 (866 7No Jail) today and talk to an experienced financial crimes defense attorney. We are available 24/7 to help you through this difficult time.