Tag Archives: fraud

White Noise

“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.”

 

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Men “provide” and women “care” in white collar crime

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

Paul M. Klenowski Heith Copes  & Christopher W. Mullin

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07418825.2010.482536

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.

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Pink collar crime made the KGW news!

I was interviewed this last week by Kyle Iboshi, investigative reporter, for KGW News.  Here is the link:

http://www.kgw.com/news/investigations/more-women-arrested-for-embezzlement-than-men/408089232

The word is getting out.

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Mom, Daughter, Sister, Wife, Grandma

The USA Today recently had this headline “Mom sentenced to nearly 7 years” http://usat.ly/2eFKwAL

Why did they lead with this headline?  Because it sells.  No one wants to admit it but there is curiosity about a Mom who steals.   My headline most likely will be clicked through many times this week due to that.  But that is why I call Pink Collar Crime the relatable crime.  Most everyone knows someone who either has been victimized by a pink collar criminal or they are aware of a pink collar criminal story in their community-think little league embezzlement or town clerk embezzlement .  Most people don’t relate to a violent offender because hopefully you have not been a victim or know someone who has been a victim.

These women aren’t scary.  They look like regular moms, sisters, wives or daughters.  They are the ones who are working a job in a medical office, small business, municipal government or possibly volunteering at a nonprofit such as a sports club or school club.

As I have been tweeting and posting, this is a growing demographic.  Women are in the workplace in record numbers and it looks to stay that way.  The world has changed.  These women are all in some form or another a mom, daughter, sister, wife or grandma.  When you see a story like that what are your initial thoughts?

Just look at women incarceration rates provided by the Prison Policy Initiative from 1910-2014 https://www.prisonpolicy.org/global/women/ Dr. Freda Adler was spot on.

 

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One degree of separation

I recently was at a holiday party with a diverse group of people.  The one thing they all had in common was Pink Collar Crime.  It is the relatable crime.  Every group at the party had either been personally embezzled in their business or knew someone directly who had been embezzled.  It is like the dirty little secret in business.  Also, it is like Kevin Bacon’s 6 degrees of separation but actually in pink collar crime only one degree.

No one wants to admit they have been stolen from.  No one wants to admit they were duped daily for sometimes years by their most trusted employee.  It hurts.  From Jean Le Carre: “The capacity to love is proportionate to the capacity to be betrayed.”  I read this in articles about people who have been stolen from.  The people who stole often are like family members.  They know their target inside and out and often use that to their advantage.

When people find out what I do they start speaking quietly to me.  “I want to tell you what happened to me…” and they pour their hearts out to me.   From Betrayal (written by Jed Block on the Goodwill NCW $500k theft) “On a personal level, I felt shame, embarrassment and anger. I also experienced a profound sense of loss of innocence and a challenge to my fundamental capacity to trust. Before the embezzlement was discovered, I was an ardent fan of the employee who committed the fraud against us.”

That is the hardest part of my job.  I want to restore their trust but they need to understand trust is not an internal control.

You can trust your employees with many things but be very careful when you are trusting them with your finances.

 

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