When you are placed in a position of trust over assets, whether those assets are property or money, you are expected to act in an honest manner. You must ensure that you aren't doing anything that might be perceived as underhanded. You might be charged with criminal charges if it is determined that you have acted in a manner that isn't ethical or lawful. One of these charges is embezzlement.
What is embezzlement?
Embezzlement occurs when you take the assets that were entrusted to you and use those assets for your own personal gain. This can occur if you are given access to the assets as part of your job duties. Embezzlement is a crime that is most common in the corporate world. The assets can be taken in small amounts over a long period of time or they can be taken all at once. The methods vary greatly, but can include falsifying records, fraudulent billing and false payroll accounting.
What are some examples of embezzlement?
One example of embezzlement would be if a store clerk took money from transactions. In this case, the money would be the property of the business, but the clerk opted to take the money to use for himself or herself.
Another example is if a payroll clerk creates fake employees and pays those fake employees. The payroll clerk would keep the money that was paid to the fake employees. Since there wasn't an actual employee who did work, the business' assets are being diverted illegally to the payroll clerk.
Embezzlement is considered a serious white collar crime that can lead to time in prison, fines and restitution. If you are facing an embezzlement charge, you need to start planning a defense quickly because these cases can be very intricate.
Source: FindLaw, "Embezzlement," accessed June 29, 2016