Employers often place a significant amount of trust in their white-collar employees. Executives, managers and even accounting professionals have access to financial accounts and other valuable company resources.
Although you may not intend to do anything unethical or illegal, some of your behavior could lead to allegations of embezzlement. While people often think of embezzlement as someone writing themselves unwarranted checks from a company account or stealing money, there are multiple seemingly minor behaviors that can lead to embezzlement accusations in addition to outright theft.
Submitting personal receipts for reimbursement
Your employer may offer reimbursement for certain expenses, like educational materials or travel accommodations. There is nothing inherently wrong with making use of those benefits appropriately. However, if you submit receipts for personal expenses to the company as though they were incurred as part of your job, the company could eventually hold you accountable for all of those personal expenditures.
Misusing a company credit card
If you have to provide detailed store receipts to your employer for reimbursement, you know that someone will look over and scrutinize each claim that you make. When you have access to a company credit card, however, you might easily fall into a habit of using it for a combination of personal and business expenses without thinking much of that decision.
Although the company will, in theory, only receive notice of the amount that you spent and the company where you spent that money, they can request detailed invoices that could help them uncover unscrupulous uses of your business expense card.
Using company property for personal purposes
Whether you keep your company fleet vehicle for a weekend when you intend to take your kids on an interstate road trip to avoid putting the wear and tear on your own vehicle or you bring home one of the older company laptops from the IT department for personal use, your possession or misappropriation of valuables physical property could also constitute embezzlement.
Those who work in a retail setting could also face embezzlement accusations if they indicate that they transferred and destroyed old inventory but actually kept those assets for personal use or resale.
Any of these behaviors might make your employer question your ethics or bring criminal charges against you. Understanding the various behaviors that put you at risk of embezzlement charges can lead to better decisions at work.