The Typical Characteristics of Embezzlers

theft (8)The crime of embezzlement is on the rise. There are many reasons for why it’s on the increase. One of the reasons is that business owners and managers don’t envision the embezzler as a potential criminal. The average embezzler doesn’t fit the idea of a stereotypical offender, therefore, supervision becomes lax. This leaves people and situations not monitored as well as they should be.

Embezzlers share more characteristics with the general populace than with other criminals. As a result, it’s important for managers and business owners to understand the profile of the average embezzler. Here are their most typical characteristics.

Age –They’re usually older than other criminals, past 30, and they begin their criminal activity at a much later age. Those who’re classified as major embezzlers often begin in their early 40s. (2011 Marquet Report on Embezzlement).

Family situation – Most are married with traditional family situations. They usually come from intact and stable families of origin.

Education – As a rule, they have higher levels of education than the average criminal.

Race – The majority of perpetrators are white.

Employment/Criminal History – Nearly all of them are first-time offenders with clean employment histories. Over 80% have never been charged with a crime or terminated from a job. (2012 Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Report)

Job Responsibility – It’s estimated that professional and managerial staff commit 40%, clerical, bookkeepers and other employees commit 40% and senior officers and owners commit 20% of embezzlements.

The size of the loss is frequently related to the position the perpetrator holds. The median loss committed by owners/executives is $573,000, by managers $180,000 and by employees $60,000. (2012 Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Report)

Gender – Until recently 70% of embezzlers were older males who’d attained a position of trust and authority, which provided the chance to commit the crime. But, with more women reaching positions of authority and responsibility, the percentage of female embezzlers has increased to 64% in the last several years. However, men on average steal significantly more than women. (2011 Marquet Report on Embezzlement).

Psychological Issues – Embezzlers usually don’t have an antisocial personality, which is much more common in other criminals. However, they do have mental health issues, most notably gambling problems (30%) and depression and/or anxiety, which may be as high as 80%.

It’s human nature to trust those who we perceive as being like us. Unfortunately, there’ll always be people who’ll take advantage of human nature. Managers can better protect their businesses by educating themselves about the typical characteristics of embezzlers.

Nicole Abbott – writer, educator and psycho-therapist



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