Hurricane, women and embezzlement

There was a fun news story out today about how people don’t take hurricanes with feminine names as seriously as hurricanes with masculine names.  In the case of hurricanes those responses may have deadly consequences.  In six decades there have been significantly more deaths from feminine named hurricanes as compared to masculine named hurricanes.  Remember Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy??

Laboratory experiments indicate that this is because hurricane names lead to gender-based expectations about severity and this, in turn, guides respondents’ preparedness to take protective action. This finding indicates an unfortunate and unintended consequence of the gendered naming of hurricanes, with important implications for policymakers, media practitioners, and the general public concerning hurricane communication and preparedness.

So what does this have to do with embezzlement and pink collar crime?  Think of the business owner with the most trusted and well liked employee.  Do the owners take seriously the possibility of Betsy robbing the company blind?  How about trusting Betsy more than the sales manager who gets caught padding his expense report?  Who is going to possibly do more damage?  According to the ACFE men steal more but women are catching up.  Victims of embezzlement have an incredibly difficult time getting over the emotional consequences of such an incredible breach of trust. 

Each time I have responded to an embezzlement, the story pretty much goes the same.  She was well liked, trusted and had “keys to the empire”.  “She” would never do something like this.  Why would “she” do this?  We never expected “her” to do this. 

Consider this a public service announcement from all of us who work embezzlement cases.  Just like the National Weather Service we are trying to help you.  Just because someone has a feminine name does not mean you should not take the risks seriously.