The process of embezzlement belongs to the class of white collar crimes. It has been defined as “ the unlawful misappropriation for personal use of money, property, or some other thing of value that has been entrusted to an offender’s care, custody, or control”. In a way, Embezzlement may be thought of as basically a process of theft which is in violation of a trust, that was bestowed upon the embezzlor. Typically the embezzler is somehow known to the perosn who has been cheated, that is there is a form of relation ship with the victim.
Such a relationship may be personal or professional, like either as an employee, guardian, or trustee of a society, bank, public institution etc. Embezzlement is often confused with another crime known as larceny. However to clarify at this point, larceny crime is the possession of the item that is stolen, and at no stage was the person who has committed the crime given the possession of the item, that is he was never the custodian.
on the contrary, in embezzlement the perpetrator has been permitted by the company, boss, colleague or whoever may be the victim, to posses the item, but the criminal decided to snatch that item to include it into his own property. Classically when we see the process of embezzlement, it has been the theft of money or property by an employee or any other person who has been engaged in managing these assets of persons or of organizations. Sufice to say that this perosn has been in intimate contact with the victim.
Also of particular note is that in calssical understanding, he or she has typically been a person Who has been involved in looking after the financial affairs of socially important persons. Thus this person has been historically a person of low ranking and / or a low-level financial institution employee. While most white collar jobs are performed by croups or companies, embezzlement schemes are . usually carried performed by individual offenders rather than companies or toerh organised institutions.
Since there is no physical force visibel in the performance of the crime, and ther e is no “ hurt” or injury involved, rather there is a breach of proffesional trust or a deception was at play, embezzlement is still categorized as a white-collar offense, as of today. Donald Cressey, in what today is considered a classic embezzlement study ( Otlzer People’s Mone), found that the process of embezzlment passes through a four-step process, that fully defined the motivations behind the crime, as was observed by him on the sample of convicted embezzlers.
In the first stage, which occurs prior to the commission of the crime, the embezzler usually is in a situation where he is experienceing some sort of inancial crisis; and this crisis has no solution within his social and economic means in a legally legitimate manner. This ‘forces the offender to look at professional sources of help. He then identifies embezzlement as a possible solution to solve his financial misery. It is imperative to be succesful in his motive that the offender be techincally competent to carry out his planned maneouvre. in the last stage the embezzler
uses “neutralization techniques” . This is situation wherein the offender tries to get over any possibke lingering shame or guilt, about stealing the money/ property, that was entrusted upon him. This is a form of justification for the crime. These techniques may involve mental discussions like the intention of paying the money back before absence is noticed. Alternatively the offender may justify his action by saying that the ‘rich people have so much money, that wil not notice, or that they also must have cheated on other people to gain that much money, so what harm occurs, if they also do the same.
Thus after these discussions, the offender believes he has the authority to now commit his crime, and he finally goes ahead with his crime. Unfortunately the crime becomes self-perpetuating. Due to the process of addiction, the offender may continue to do the same, or that the vicarious pleasure of stealing now forces him to continue doing so. Cressey’s interest in the biuld up to the the process of embezzzelment led himm to propose the above three conditons; these were subsequently know as the FraudsTriangle concept, which consisted of three variables: perceived financial need, perceived opportunity, and rationalization.
A few warning signs are there that may be able to suggest embezzling is actually going on . there should be reason to worry if an employee suddenly has a jump in his or her standard of living with no extra income to explain it. Also a s udden drops would occur in the company profits. During the time of audit, if somebody’s documents suddenly go missing, it is a clear warning bell. Computers have made jobs easier for everytone today, and so has the job become easier for the embessler.
The profile of thre offender has chaged and knowledge relating to the manipulation of large-scale computerizedf inancial databases is the most important information for the embezler Today the process of embezzlement with computers is classified as a “computer-assisted” crime rather than a “computer-focused crime. ” Here the computer only plays the role of assitane, since thecrime has already been planned, and the computer is only a media to its execution. This has seen a change in the profile of the embezzler.
modern-day “technical elites” who steal from their employers and organizations may more closely resemble the societal elites Collective embezzlement, or “looting”is another entity being seen in the crime circles. This involves the siphoning off of funds for personal gain. This self-interested fraud has been shown to be the most costly category of thrift crime. Unlike the conventioal processo f embezzlement, here this is a crime by the members of the said organization against the organization itself. It may be the owner of the institution also.
Thus oftne people may be found to be at the helm of a company, yet use it to gain further personal income or property by unlawful means using embezzlement. CRESSEYD, . R. (1953). Other People’s Money: A Stady in the Social Ps~chologyo f Embezzlement. Glencoe, IL: Free Press. 5. FURNELSL. , ( 2002). Cybercrime: Vandalizittg the btfo17imtior1S ociety Boston: Addison-Wesley. Ernest Poortinga, MD, MS, Craig Lemmen, MD and Michael D. Jibson, MD, PhD: A Case Control Study: White-Collar Defendants Compared With Defendants Charged With Other Nonviolent Theft jaapl. org/cgi/content/full/34/1/82