Wikipedia defines white-collar crime as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation”. We have found that this kind crime is not just reserved for the Senior Management of a business or retail establishment. Department Heads, Assistant Managers and Managers are frequently involved in white-collar crime.
We have investigated thousands of people in these positions. This type of management has access to cash, inventory, bookkeeping records and deposits. They can make changes to records and inventory and are in fact expected to do so in a legitimate business situation.
Because of this access and trust there are some that end up committing white collar crime by voiding sales, modifying the accounting records, stealing inventory and depositing checks to their own account in order to steal cash and merchandise.
The reasons for this type of theft are as diverse as the people committing white-collar crime. Not only are the standard “excuses” there such as drugs, gambling and plain old greed but others as well. For example during this time of economic problems we are finding that a spouse that is out of work puts pressure on the family finances since the possibility of finding a job is bleak. People are also justifying theft because they are used to a certain level of income, which brings with it “toys” that they now can’t afford.
How does an employer protect it self from white-collar crime? To begin with the hiring process must screen out candidates that have high-risk backgrounds. Some of these include:
- Termination from a previous job for theft
- The candidates credit record shows a poor history. If they cannot manage their own money do you really want them managing yours? There are some exceptions such as a massive medical problem. But beyond that type of issue a poor credit record tells you how they manage their life.
- Traffic violations beyond an occasional speeding ticket. DUI’s, reckless driving and frequent accidents will also tell you about the person.
- Criminal histories also give us a window into a person’s mindset. I am not talking about the check they bounced in college for pizza. Assaults, fighting, domestic violence, drunk and disorderly type incidents show that a person is not in control of themselves. And of course convictions for serious crimes such as robbery, murder, rape and kidnapping are not only showing us that the person is out of control but is a high-risk liability for an employer. If you hire someone like this and they commit any crime against your employees or customers and you will most likely be held liable.
- Testing candidates with one of the many employment-screening tools that sort out people that are prone to theft are very effective.
- Drug testing
- Conducting several interviews by more than one management person skilled in pre-employment interviewing.
- Do not forget checking references. This tends to get down played but it has merit. Insist on references with previous co-workers, supervisors, teachers and others beyond the ones that are listed on the resume. Ask for more and specify the type.
White-collar crime will never go away, ever. Protect your self by being proactive.