A corporate intelligence and security consulting firm that conducted a five year study that tied embezzlement to gambling and a desire to live a lavish lifestyle. Anecdotal evidence suggests drug addiction also plays a factor. The Marquet Report on Embezzlement looked into 528 cases involving $100,000 or more in reported losses. In 2012 the average loss was about $1.4 million, and 58% of all the cases involved female embezzlers. From looking into major cases from 2007-2011 the researchers were able to glean that most embezzlers begin in their early 40s, financial institutions and non-profits are the most frequent victims and less than five percent of perpetrators had a previous criminal history. Whenever news of a well-known politician or executive embezzling money makes the headlines there is usually a moment of surprise. The Federal Bureau of Investigations even says that most embezzlement is committed by people with high social status who are well respected and trusted members of their community. The top reasons and motivations of people who embezzle:
- The higher paid the position, the more access they have to funds
- Those who have a reputation of being in high society want to maintain a lavish lifestyle
- Those who make more money than average are more likely to gamble
- They embezzle funds to cover up financial issues.
One district attorney said that one of the biggest reasons people turn to embezzlement is so that they can support either a drug habit or a gambling addiction. Drug addiction and impulsive gambling are both serious problems. If a person is addicted to drugs they will more than likely partake in risky behavior as a side effect of the drugs. A common characteristic of a person who has a gambling addiction is impulsive behavior. Gamblers are also known to go to drastic measures to cover up their addiction. The need to feed habits and cover up financial problems fuel a person’s decision to embezzle money. Signs that a person may be committing embezzlement are difficult to justify, especially when the person is used to covering up their habits. Signs that a person may be embezzling:
- Living beyond their means
- Suspiciously controlling of records inside the workplace due to fears someone will detect discrepancies
- Gets defensive when questioned about spending habits or income
- Takes work home with them
- Insists on being in charge of or hiding daily mail and bills.
Embezzlement is considered a property theft and convictions range from fines to jail or prison time, depending on the severity of the crime.