White-Collar Crime: Embezzlement Explained

One of the most common forms of white-collar crime is embezzlement. At its core, embezzlement is a crime of a violation of trust more than anything else. In order to be classified as embezzlement, the person committing the crime must have legal access to the property or other assets that they took. Where their actions become criminal is that they take the assets that they have access to and use it for their own interests. In this way, it is a betrayal of trust as well as a form of stealing.

Examples of Embezzlement

In order to get a good understanding of what embezzlement is, one only needs to look at some of the different ways that it is committed. Most people have heard of a variety of different cases of embezzlement, even if they weren’t aware that this is what it is called. Here are some fairly common ways that embezzlement can occur:

  • Ponzi Scheme – Most people have heard of the 2008 Ponzi scheme where Bernie Madoff betrayed the trust of many clients when he misused more than $50 billion in their assets. By using the assets of later investors, Madoff was able to make it appear that he was getting huge returns for his clients, which was absolutely not the case.
  • Taking Money from a Charity – People often trust their money with a charity, hoping that it will be used for good. When someone in the charity steals that money or uses it to buy things for themselves, that is a form of embezzlement. For example, if the pastor of a church uses the donations that were given for a mission trip to buy him or herself a new car, that is a form of embezzlement.
  • Sending Money to Your Account – If you are responsible for depositing or transferring money for a business, but you put some of that money into your own account, that is embezzlement. Even if the employee is only taking a small amount from each transaction, it is a serious violation of trust and a serious legal issue.
  • Using Petty Cash – On a much smaller scale, many companies have a “petty cash” jar where employees can use that money to purchase items that are needed for their job. If an employee uses the money to buy something for themselves instead, this is actually embezzlement. While the small amounts may not result in criminal charges, they have caused many people to lose their jobs.

From a legal point of view, all cases of embezzlement should be taken very seriously. The penalties will vary depending on the amount that was taken, but even at the lowest level, it can result in hefty fines and jail time. If you have been charged with embezzlement, or you fear that there are charges coming, make sure to contact us right away.

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Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL

As experienced trial lawyers with a passion for justice, our firm provides clients with compelling advocacy, attorney availability, and creative solutions to your tax or criminal law matters.

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