Tag Archives: embezzlement
Recently I presented to a group of fire service administrators. This presentation was about fraud and embezzlement in fire districts. Of course, I had to include some #pinkcollarcrime stories because of the numbers of women stealing from fire districts.
A shout out to Curt Varone http://www.firelawblog.com/ for his help with these numbers. According to iWomen, there are 11,000 female career firefighters and 40,000 volunteers. From the NFPA there are roughly 1.2 million firefighters which translate to women making up roughly 4.25% of the fire service (51,000/1.2 mil). Curt has been keeping track of embezzlement cases in fire districts. Here are his results:
Insider Theft in the Volunteer service
Total cases: 360
Criminal – 188
Civil – 8
Administrative – 164 (disciplinary cases)
188 CRIMINAL CASES
Women Involved – 53 (28.2%)
Married Couple – 11
Now, this is not complete but it gives a snapshot of the issue. Women are overrepresented in theft cases as compared to their numbers of employment within fire districts.
As I finish the presentation, a woman in the audience states she knows 5 women in her small community who are pink collar criminals. “I didn’t even realize I knew that many! I didn’t even know it’s a thing.” One of the stories I talk about she knows the family.
This is why I call #pinkcollarcrime the relatable crime. We know them. We work with them. Our kids go to school with their kids. We volunteer with them. These women are much like your friends, neighbors, co-workers. These women are not scary. They are not whom we think of as “bad guys.”
My job is to educate people about fraud. You have to be aware of the employee who may be your biggest threat. In many small businesses, it is she. Never underestimate the smarts, capabilities, and power of a woman.
Equal Pay Day 2017 was yesterday, April 4, 2017. All sorts of news stories have been posted, tweeted and blogged. As of now, it will take 169 years for parity in the work world. But in the world of embezzlement and fraud I can tell you it is going to take even longer. Here are some statistics to get started.
Statistic #1-depending on the position, women have an even bigger glass ceiling. In 2016 women stole on average approximately .56 for every dollar stolen by a male.
Statistic #2-breaking it down by position and comparing male and female employees the women steal approximately .78 cents of a man. Comparing managers, the female managers steal approximately .84 cents. But the biggest variance is between owners and executives. This is where the men rule. A woman will only steal, on average, .36 as compared to a man. Below is the link for the ACFE Report to the Nations 2016-see page 58 for gender:
So what does that say? Anecdotally I will say that women are in “lesser” positions than men on average and therefore have more supervision. If you are a male owner/executive you are going to rob the company blind. As it has been detailed before, audits do not catch fraud generally speaking. But more positions that are held by women have some internal controls: two signature authorization, limits on purchase cards etc.
Not getting political but Trump has just pulled back the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act put in by Obama. This is not going to help matters.
I just was in Philadelphia doing the closing keynote for the IIA Philadelphia. I now have a survey card that I pass out to attendees. Just through the initial assessment I will tell you that tips and alert lines are how many people get caught. That has also been my personal experience.
When workers see something wrong they may say something. When people don’t think the system is fair they may not speak out or worse they may neutralize their behavior and appeal to higher loyalties and possibly may resort to embezzlement.
Stay tuned for the analysis of the attendees.
“Also after our incident, we started reading a lot. If you have not been a victim of embezzlement, it’s just white noise. But once you start paying attention, it’s clearly an epidemic.” That quote came from a victim of a pink collar criminal who stole over $200k+ from their medical practice. Getting to hear real stories from the victims is part of my job. It’s the part that is the hardest but also very rewarding. Listening to this doctor’s story is like a record with a scratch: she was my friend, we socialized together, she handled everything, she was a long time trusted employee. I hear these stories each time I go to investigate.
I am trying to get the word out about these long time trusted employees who steal victim’s innocence and joy from their work. This victim has been devastated by the theft. Paying back taxes, reconstructing the books, and of course trying to rebuild trust with your employees and clients. And it continues. It continues because many of these women live in the victim’s community. This victim sees their former employee at the grocery store. She is not in jail. She is actually working for a new medical practice. Justice is slow. But luckily this victim is also trying to get the word out about medical embezzlement. It can happen to you and then it won’t be “white noise.”
As a wannabe academic I read as much as I can about women and crime. This week I came across the term “neutralization” by David Matza and Gresham Sykes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Techniques_of_neutralization) 1957.
The definition from Wikipedia: Techniques of neutralization are a theoretical series of methods by which those who commit illegitimate acts temporarily neutralize certain values within themselves which would normally prohibit them from carrying out such acts, such as morality, obligation to abide by the law, and so on. In simpler terms, it is a psychological method for people to turn off “inner protests” when they do, or are about to do something they themselves perceive as wrong.
And in simplest terms:
- The Denial of Responsibility
- The Denial of Injury
- The Denial of the Victim
- The Condemnation of the Condemners
- The Appeal to Higher Loyalties
This technical term was new to me but in my career I have experienced it every time I have interviewed a suspect about their involvement in a crime. As many investigators know you understand neutralization in order to get the story or the confession.
What is even more fascinating is the difference between men and women and their use of neutralization. So off I went into the land of academia to research this more thoroughly. A very interesting paper with 40 subjects (20 males and 20 females) gave even more insight:
Gender, Identity, and Accounts: How White Collar Offenders Do Gender When Making Sense of Their Crimes
In these interviews it became clear that all male and female subjects used different neutralizations to justify their crimes. However, their justifications varied by gender in many cases. Men feel the need to be the breadwinner. It is part of their masculinity to provide for their families.
Women are the caregivers more generally even though being the primary breadwinner is increasing. From the study the women “claimed that the lack of capable males to support them necessitated that they assume the full responsibility as the family caregiver…For these women, the use of the defense of necessity was often coupled with the fulfilling of the caregiver role. They claimed that the necessity of their crimes was heightened because of their desire to protect or shield their family from harm… Women tended to emphasize their responsibilities as caregivers as the main driving force behind the necessity, coupled with the failures of others in their families (usually men).
Another part of the study I have seen up close and personal. Men often were “merely seeking a justifiable reprisal for the wrong that had been committed against him. Whereas the men who used this technique pointed to generalized victims (e.g., the government), the women more often pointed to specific individuals who wronged them (e.g., employers). For the business owners out there I think you will find this very fitting.
As I continue to work on pink collar crime and spread the word many of these issues come up in investigations. Knowing how men think and react in comparison to women is helpful when you are trying to put a case together. I would love to hear your experience with male and female subjects in investigations of white collar type crimes. Thank you in advance.
I was interviewed this last week by Kyle Iboshi, investigative reporter, for KGW News. Here is the link:
The word is getting out.