Many employees who get caught committing white collar crime are first-time offenders who have never been through the criminal justice system. It can often happen that an employee simply assumes that what he or she is doing is not really a crime, perhaps because the employee does not perceive his or her actions to be serious enough to warrant getting noticed.
The truth, however, is that even small amounts of theft or fraud are technically white-collar crimes. Acts you may consider to be insignificant could actually be criminal. If that is the case and your employer or other employees catch you in the act, you could face serious consequences. The best way to protect yourself from unwittingly committing fraud or other types of white-collar crime is to inform yourself about the most common types of workplace embezzlement.
Common types of workplace embezzlement and fraud
Things you may consider to be "little white lies" or actions you think "no one will notice" can prove to be fatal to your career and reputation. Forbes reported that a high number of employees steal from their employers, using tactics such as stealing company funds or data. It cited a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that revealed a full 75% of employees have stolen from their employer at least once.
Common forms of embezzlement include check fraud (taking blank checks), "padding" expenses (filing inaccurately high expense reports to get extra cash or using the company credit card for personal expenses), or fraudulent invoice schemes or reimbursement (getting the employer to pay for things you did not actually buy or things the company did not actually purchase).
Consequences you may face
Although you may think these types of fraud do not matter, because you may reason "everyone does it," the truth is if your employer uncovers white-collar crime in the workplace, you could face criminal charges. If the embezzlement involves a federal agency, you could face federal embezzlement charges. This is not an area you should underestimate.
The best course of action is to avoid this behavior altogether. However, if you do engage in any type of fraud or embezzlement and get caught and face charges, the best course of action is to seek out a reputable criminal defense attorney who has experience handling white-collar crime. Building a strategic defense may help you mitigate the consequences of a potential conviction.