Textbook case of Pink Collar Crime - 5 Signs

The Society of Personality and Social Psychology Inc. (SPSP), a private, not-for-profit organization, was the victim of a $365k theft by an administrative assistant, Christie Talbot. http://bit.ly/2BGAHh4 This case is so familiar to victims of pink collar crime. Here are 5 signs that most investigators and victims are familiar with.  

  1. Talbot was trusted. She was given blank, signed checks by David Dunning, Executive Director. In her interview with the attorney, "she felt especially bad about Dunning because he trusted her.” #trustisnotaninternalcontrol
  2. No segregation of duties. Because of the fast growth of the organization, Talbot did most everything and no one was looking over her work until a new CFO came in. The SPSP did have an audit done before but Talbot had stopped stealing at that point and they did not find the fraud.
  3. Talbot was very uncooperative when asked for bank records. She gave excuses: “Unfortunately, I accidentally dropped the box with files and have had to go through them and sort them back out. Lately, nothing has been going smoothly. LOL.”
  4. She confessed and plead guilty. Talbot said that she'd hoped to pay back all of the money that she'd taken. But the money was gone. Talbot stated she had “$5 in one account.”  #dontstealtosave
  5. Her background: According to her attorney, Talbot had traumatic experiences in her past that caused her to act irrationally. She had periods of severe depression. Talbot had enormous financial pressure because she was the primary breadwinner in her family and sole financial support for her young children. She was ready to declare bankruptcy.

In her interview with the SPSP attorney “she stated for the sake of the kids she didn’t want to serve criminal time…she stated she hoped to pay everything back that she had taken.”

When interviewing a suspect use this for empathy and to get records. She was under stress and would do whatever asked to better the situation. In this time ask for downloads of bank records. You can save a tremendous amount of time on the case by asking the suspect to assist you. No promises but it doesn’t hurt to show the court she assisted you. 

This is just one case study but it checks most of the boxes I look for when investigating embezzlement cases like this. Her scheme was not complicated. She just wrote checks to herself but no one was watching. #itsnotthatcomplicated