Three Best Ways to Catch an Employee Thief

 In Business, Employee Motivation, Money/Wealth, Relationships, Small Business, Technology

Three Best Ways to Catch an Employee Thief |Wall Street Journal|By SARAH E. NEEDLEMAN

If your small business can’t afford external auditors, security cameras or other resources for spotting employee fraud, consider doing some detective work of your own. The effort could save your firm from a significant financial loss or worse—failure.

After all, a single heist could be fatal for a small business, says Richard Hollinger, a professor of criminology at the University of Florida. Small firms typically don’t have

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the financial resources to fall back on that large organizations have, he explains. (See related story, Business Owners Get Burned by Sticky Fingers.)

Employee fraud can take place right under a business owner’s nose. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, an anti-fraud trade group in Austin, Texas, such activities occur on average for as long as two years before the victim organization catches on.

The phone keeps ringing. Some corrupt workers will instruct friends to repeatedly call a business and ask if the owner is on site until the answer is no, says Mark R. Doyle, chief executive of Jack L. Hayes International Inc., a provider of workplace crime-prevention services in Wesley Chapel, Fla. Once they hear those “magic” words, the friend knows it’s safe to come by and swipe merchandise under the rogue employee’s watch, he explains.

The math doesn’t add up. Two years ago, ReShonda Young noticed a subordinate at her father’s transportation company, Alpha Express LLC, had turned in a weekly time sheet with more hours than he could’ve possibly worked. That prompted Ms. Young, a manager at the Waterloo, Iowa, company, to investigate further and she discovered that the employee had been stretching his hours for months, initially to a less-noticeable extent. “I guess it got to be a little easy,” she says. Now all supervisors must review and sign workers’ time cards before they can be processed, says Ms. Young.

Money problems surface. Financial pressures are a key motivator of occupational fraud, the ACFE reports. For this reason, business owners should take note of any excessive complaining by a worker about money burdens. And if such a person’s lifestyle suddenly improves dramatically, this could signal he or she has their hand in the company’s cookie jar.

Write to Sarah E. Needleman at

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  • Kylie Batt

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    The effort could save your firm from a significant financial loss or worse—failure.
    After all, a single heist […….

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