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Defining and discussing embezzlement

The phrase "white collar crimes" is an umbrella term that applies to a wide variety of crimes. Securities fraud, insurance fraud, bankruptcy fraud, RICO charges, and trade secret violations are all examples of white collar crimes. Today, we want to focus on one particular type of white collar crime, and it is a common one: embezzlement.

Embezzlement is when someone in a position of power or financial responsibility uses his or her position to steal assets or commit larceny that he or she is in charge of. One reason that embezzlement is alleged is when a bank teller steals money that they are in possession of at their job. It can also occur when higher ranking employees use or steal company assets.

However, being charged with embezzlement doesn't mean that the accused is guilty. First of all, there is always an assumption of innocence. The prosecution must prove an accused individual's guilt. In addition, there are four factors that must be established in order for embezzlement charges to be proven:

  • Fiduciary relationship must be present, meaning that one party was reliant on the other
  • The accused person must have acquired the assets through the relationship
  • The accused person must have taken official ownership of the assets, or transferred them to another person or party
  • The accused person must have done all of this intentnionally

Failing these four factors, a case of embezzlement can't be proven. If you have any questions, consult with an attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Embezzlement," Accessed Sept. 15, 2017

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