Embezzlement Strikes Again

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hired in June 2008 for Sherwood Inspection in South Windor, CT, Candace Brainard was a full-time thief. Already facing charges of embezzling $40,000 from her previous employer, Rocky Hill, Brainard was hired without a background check.

She proceeded to embezzle somewhere around $12,000 from Sherwood, which they learned about only after the police arrested Brainard. She now faces felony larceny and forgery charges.

"I had no idea. I wish I had," Sherwood said Friday. "Our losses are probably more than $12,000 because we've been uncovering more stuff. We're missing a $3,000 piece of equipment, which she said she sent out for testing. This is really hard on us."

In today's economic climate, of course it is. Business cannot afford to take losses like this. Employee theft is a widespread crime, costing US businesses nearly $1 trillion in losses in 2008. As the economy worsens, should employers have reason to believe they are more vulnerable?

"It may be on the increases in the next few months, but this crime is hard to detect quickly. Usually it's been going on for months of even years before a business realizes it," said Mary Rose Palmese, a veteran prosecutor in New Britain Superior Court. This type of theft is constant in good times or bad, and there is no clear indication so far during this recession of a spike in people embezzling from their employers.

Sherwood acknowledged he had not done a background check on Brainard. He learned of the alleged theft only after a courtesy call from a credit card about a suspicious check. "In the future everyone we hire is getting a background check."


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