Make Them Take Vacations!

This story originally came to me when I was reading Freakonomics and it really made sense.  Several of the cases I have worked on and lots more I find out from Google Alerts have this common thread-people find out about theft when the embezzler goes on vacation, leaves work unexpectedly or gets sick.  The jig is up when they can no longer cover their tracks.  Read on for the excerpt from Freakonomics:

In any case, it reminded me of a story I once heard about an Iowa bank employee named Bernice Geiger, who was arrested in 1961 for embezzling more than $2 million over the course of many years. The bank happened to be owned by her father. Bernice was reportedly very generous, giving lots of the money away. Upon her arrest, the bank went bust. Sent to prison, she was paroled five years later, and moved back in with her parents, who apparently were forgiving types.

Geiger was reportedly exhausted by the time she was arrested. Why? Because she never took vacations. This turned out to be a key component in her crime. As the story goes — this was told to me by a retired Sioux City cop, though I’ve never been able to confirm it — the reason she never took vacations was that she was keeping two sets of books and couldn’t risk a fill-in employee discovering her embezzlement. The most interesting part, according to the cop, is that after prison Geiger went to work for a banking oversight agency to help stop embezzlement. Her biggest contribution: looking for employees who failed to take vacation. This simple metric turned out to have strong predictive power in stopping embezzlement.

Are your “trusted” employees taking their vacations?  If not, why?  This is another item to keep you on your toes when you have employees.  So many times I read a story about an embezzler aka pink collar criminal who “always was there doing the work”.  Think about why they never take vacations.  Is it because they can’t afford to?  Well that is a red flag.  If they are too broke then maybe they need some extra money.  Listen to your employees.  Many co-workers observe this pattern.  Keep open communications with your employees.