Confronting a Suspected Embezzler
How should I respond to a suspected case of embezzlement?

Q: We've had the same church bookkeeper for ten years. Now, I suspect she's been embezzling church funds. When I confronted her, she adamantly denied any wrongdoing. I'm pretty certain she's guilty. What steps can I take to establish her guilt?

A: Church leaders often are unsure how to address suspected cases of embezzlement. The suspected embezzler is almost always a trusted member or employee, and church leaders are reluctant to accuse such a person without irrefutable evidence of guilt. Seldom does such evidence exist. If the evidence clearly indicates that a particular member or employee has embezzled church funds, but this person denies any wrongdoing, inform him or her that the church may be forced to turn the matter over to the police for investigation and prosecution.

Embezzlers never report their illegally obtained "income" on their tax returns. Nor do they suspect that failure to do so may subject them to criminal tax evasion charges! In fact, in some cases it is actually more likely that the IRS will prosecute the embezzler for tax evasion than the local prosecutor will prosecute for the crime of embezzlement.

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Posted: March 2, 2009
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