Employee theft is a rapidly growing crime in the United States. Nearly one-third of all employees commit some degree of employee theft, according to Department of Justice reports. Employee theft costs billions of dollars in losses to businesses every year in the United States. These losses are eventually passed on to the consumer who must then share the financial burden of employee theft.
The US Chamber of Commerce estimates that employee theft costs businesses $40 billion dollars each year. This total is ten times the value of street crime losses annually in the USA. The banking industry reports losses of over one billion dollars annually because of employee theft, greater than the amount taken in bank robberies many times over. Recent reports have found that employee theft is increasing at a rate of fifteen percent annually. According to the FBI, employee theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the USA.
Some experts have found that one-third of all new businesses fail because of employee theft. Approximately two percent of all business sales are lost to employee theft. These devastating losses are often passed on to consumers who are forced to pay higher prices for goods and services to help defer the cost of employee theft. Government research has found that each family pays an estimated three hundred dollars each year to subsidize business losses due to employee theft and shoplifting.
Employee theft can encompass many activities including: faking on-the-job injuries for compensation, taking merchandise, stealing small sums of cash, forging or destroying receipts, shipping and billing scams, putting fictitious employees on payroll, and falsifying expense records. Employee theft may be a simple isolated event carried out by one individual, a highly organized scheme to acquire substantial financial or material gain, or anything in between. Employee theft can range from petty theft acquisitions valued below a specified dollar amount or may be grand theft, whereby the losses exceed the value established through state and federal legal statutes.
There are many things that employers can do to prevent employee theft. Statistics indicate that only two percent of businesses that suffer losses from employee theft take subsequent steps to prevent future cases of employee theft. Many companies that do address the problem do so only after suffering from employee theft. To deal with the problem of employee theft, employers can: establish a smart hiring process more likely to yield trustworthy employees (i.e. personal interviews, background checks, credit checks, etc.); improve accounting practices and record keeping, establish an internal employee theft department, beef up security measures, and more.
When a person is charged with employee theft, a number of legal consequences are possible. Employee theft may be handled internally, by local law enforcement, or the case may be handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI). Employee theft is both a serious criminal offense and a civil tort. A person convicted of employee theft may receive jail or prison time, heavy fines, restitution, and more. If you would like to learn more about employee theft, please contact us to speak to a qualified attorney.
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