Reputable statistics on workplace theft show that nearly 75% of employees have stolen at least once from their employer, and over half of those are repeat offenders.
The types of theft that occur today differ from those in the past. While some employees are still stealing physical items or cash from their workplace, other types of crimes are happening at an alarming rate today. These include identity theft and theft of credit card numbers, fraud, and embezzlement to name just a few.
Let’s look at some recent examples from the news to see just how widespread, alarming, and varied this trend really is.
Theft from Saks
Saks Fifth Avenue is one of the most famous and posh high-end stores, and people do not immediately equate them with being a dangerous place to shop. While they might be safe for the most part, six of their employees recently stole credit card information from 22 customers. They used these numbers to purchase over $400,000 in goods from Saks. They made 90 total transactions, with the dollar amount varying substantially between them. The smallest purchase was actually $1,000, while the largest was a whopping $44,000. The majority of the money was spent on designer items from the store, such as shoes and bags.
Police raided the home of the alleged ringleader, Tamara Williams of Queens, where they found more than a hundred boxes of luxury shoes. All six of the culprits have been arrested and charged with larceny and identity theft.
Saks Fifth Avenue restored the accounts of the customers affected by the theft, and they went on to assure all of their customers that their accounts were safe. When the story first broke, some people initially thought that someone must have hacked accounts in order to get the information. It turns out the method of getting the credit card numbers was “old school” though, with the employees just taking the information and using it. This illustrates just how important it is to know your employees, and in some cases to implement a way of monitoring any activity that might be suspicious.
While it is true that large companies such as Saks have to be wary of who they hire, the same goes for anyone who hires an independent contractor. In Cape May, NJ, the police recently arrested an employee from a cleaning service after a jewelery theft.
A woman renting a house hired the cleaning company, but was not prepared for them to clean out some of her jewelry. After the company came to the house the woman was renting and cleaned it, she noticed that $1,100 of her jewelry was missing. She contacted the police, and the investigation led them to a local pawnshop. The police were able to recover all of the stolen jewelry, and the leads they found at the shop led them to Joseph V. Hogg, the perpetrator.
Whether a company or a private individual is hiring a cleaning service, or whether they are hiring for any other type of service that brings strangers onto the property, it is highly important to consider the peoples’ background. Who are they and does their history show anything that could present problems? While it is not possible to weed out all of the bad apples from the bunch, a little more time and care taken when hiring can help to eliminate quite a few of them.
What would reduce these issues?
Employee theft is serious trouble for companies of all sizes, and it is important to take steps that will help to reduce risk. One of the first things that all companies need to do is to consider background checks for the employees they bring aboard the business. They may also want to consider background checks for any independent workers and contractors who will be working at the business if they will have any access to sensitive information. By providing background checks, and by actually investigating issues of fraud and theft with the help of a professional investigator, it can help to reduce the risks substantially.
The cost of a background investigation might surprise you. We are fortunate to have our own in-house computer system which is highly proprietary and not available to the public or through the internet. You may request a simple background of civil, criminal, driving record and the U.S. Consumer Public Filing Index which includes bankruptcies, notice of defaults, tax liens, judgment and problems with the IRS for a few hundred dollars. Great information and even greater peace of mind.