Check-Cashing Scheme Voided

Multi-Agency Effort Disrupts U.S. Treasury Check-Cashing and Identity Theft Ring

The treasury checks were meant for military families, taxpayers receiving refunds, and Social Security beneficiaries—but they wound up in the hands of thieves instead.

From June 2012 to September 2014, a band of 19 criminals in Atlanta ran a large-scale U.S. Treasury check-cashing and identity theft ring that defrauded the federal government and retail stores of nearly $1 million. The ring included check suppliers, sellers, identification manufacturers, and “check runners” who used fake driver’s licenses to cash stolen checks.

At the center of it all was career criminal Asad Abdullah, who orchestrated the elaborate scheme from inside a Georgia state prison. With regular access to contraband cellphones, Abdullah was able to contact his younger brothers in Atlanta, and he soon had the resources he needed to mobilize the family-run criminal enterprise.

Here’s how it worked: Thieves stole checks from various sources, including the U.S. mail, and middlemen purchased the checks at a percentage of their face value, usually 25 percent. Meanwhile, identification manufacturers were paid to produce counterfeit Georgia driver’s licenses matching the names and addresses of the victims, but with photos of the scheme’s check runners, who would cash the checks at grocery stores, discount supermarkets, and check-cashing outlets.

While U.S. Treasury check-cashing was a regular activity for Abdullah’s crew, the ambitious enterprise also engaged in credit card fraud. Inside sources working at big-box stores with regular access to customer and store credit card data provided the thieves with a steady flow of personal information. This data was used to produce counterfeit identification documents so the fraudsters could pose as real store club members. Trips to stores throughout Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama resulted in brand new replacement credit cards that were ultimately used to purchase gift cards, gas, groceries, and other items.

The ring was finally derailed following a series of early morning raids and takedowns on September 24, 2014, which turned up weapons, cash, and identity document manufacturing hardware.

“The 16-month investigation was an enormous cooperative effort involving numerous federal, state, and local law enforcement resources,” said an FBI Atlanta agent assigned to the case.

As part of the investigation, a confidential informant assisted the FBI and other law enforcement personnel in recovering stolen checks and false identifications. Several stores also agreed to support the investigation by cashing the stolen checks, thus aiding the Bureau and other agencies in identifying members of the scheme.

“Fraud and identity theft crimes are a serious problem in Atlanta,” added the case agent. “Our combined efforts in this particular case serve as a warning to would-be criminals on the brink of preying on unsuspecting victims.”

Sentencing was announced on February 16, 2016 for 18 of the 19 Atlanta criminals convicted for their roles in the crime ring. The 19th and final defendant is scheduled to be sentenced in the near future.

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White House, NYC prosecutor pledge $79M to test rape kits

NEW YORK – The White House and New York City’s district attorney have pledged a combined $79 million on Thursday to help clear the tens of thousands of rape kits that have gone untested across the country.

The White House announced that $41 million in federal funds plus $38 million from the Manhattan prosecutor will go toward clearing backlogs in 27 states.

Local law enforcement agencies applied for the grants. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is using asset forfeiture funds toward the effort.

Vance and Vice President Joe Biden announced the local authorities receiving funds at a news conference at the New York City medical examiner’s office.

Awards range from $97,305 to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, which will test approximately 148 kits, to $1,999,982 to the Georgia State Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which will test approximately 3,108 kits.

It’s estimated that tens of thousands of DNA samples taken after sexual assaults have gone untested. Part of the issue is the cost of testing the kits, which can run around $800 to $1,000 per kit. Some cities such as Detroit have turned to private donations to raise money to clear the backlogs.

The district attorney’s office said it has established agreements with two private forensic labs to secure competitive rates for testing kits. Kits tested through the initiative will cost less than $675 per kit, significantly less than the estimated nationwide average of $1,000 to $1,500 per kit.

In 2009, CBS News reported that investigators often ignore DNA evidence collected from victims in sexual assault kits. Thousands of these rape kits have gathered dust for years but the CBS News report and subsequent coverage have helped persuade some police departments to begin testing them

In one of those cities, Cleveland, once the kits were analyzed, they revealed 225 men were potentially linked to multiple rapes.

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Armored Natural-Gas Plug-In Hybrid Truck To Hit The Roads

Have you ever thought about the carbon footprint of your money?

Everything we use has to be transported from place to place, including the cash in our wallets.

And the big, hulking diesel armored trucks that move money around are hardly the most fuel-efficient vehicles.

Hoping to temper the all-important emphasis on security with some green thinking, three companies have just unveiled a cleaner alternative to the traditional armored truck.

The 26,000-pound vehicle is a plug-in hybrid with a natural-gas internal-combustion engine, according to Autoblog.

Six trucks were converted by Efficient Drivetrains Inc. and North American Repower, and will begin hauling valuables around the Los Angeles area with Sectran Security next year.

Efficient Drivetrains has already tried to market a plug-in hybrid SUV in Asia, while North American Repower specializes in natural-gas conversions.

An armored truck seemed like a good platform for the joint project because these vehicles most of their time in urban traffic, making many stops for deliveries.

During stops, a standard truck’s diesel engine is typically left idling for security purposes.

However, California regulations limit idling to 5 minutes, the partners say.

The powertrain’s electric component offers a way around that issue, while the natural gas power helps to reduce emissions while running the engine.

The demonstration fleet of six trucks will conserve 31,000 gallons of diesel per year, and cut emissions by 99.9 percent, the companies claim.

Natural gas has proven to be more acceptable as a fuel for fleets than individual passenger cars.

The lack of public fueling stations makes owning a natural-gas car somewhat inconvenient, but fleet operators can secure supplies of the fuel to distribute to their vehicles.

After 15 years of selling a natural-gas powered Civic sedan, Honda has withdrawn that model for 2016 after concluding that prospects for natural gas-fueled passenger vehicles remained dim.

Since most fleet vehicles operate within confined service areas, operators count on them not straying too far from a centralized fueling source, often “back at base” every night.

The armored-truck project received a $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission, along with a matching amount of private funds.

While this project will only demonstrate these unusual vehicles, perhaps more will be built if security companies show interest.

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$280K buys more campus security officers at Huntsville City Schools

Huntsville City Schools expects to spend $280,500 for hiring 15 part-time campus security officers to help protect students before and after regular classroom hours.

The district must strategically assign its current campus security officers because it doesn’t have enough CSOs to work every campus, Dr. Jeff Wilson, director of operations, told school board members last week, and adding 15 more will cover the district.

More to the purpose, a larger CSO staff provides enhanced security as part of a new transfer student supervision plan, he said. This means more eyes to keep watch in the mornings and afternoon when both magnet school and Majority-to-Minority students are in the midst of moving to campuses.

The supervision plans also tasks school principals to designate a space outside their school and a space inside their school in which students waiting for magnet buses, M-to-M transfer buses, or other transportation will wait to be picked up.

Transfer students can arrive at their zoned school as early as 7 a.m. to get a bus that takes them to their transfer school. On afternoons, they can remain on campus as past 4 p.m. Some schools also offer after-school programs that extend to 5:30 p.m. The officers will work weekdays 6:45 to 8:45 a.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The unarmed CSOs will be there to ensure the campus only contains students who are meant to be at school during those extra times, Wilson said, and prevent unauthorized youths or young adults from loitering before or after school. The officers will be equipped with two-way radios and remote access to student ID picture to verify students are who they claim.
The part-time CSOs will earn $15 per hour and operate on a work schedule much like crossing guards.

The wages will cost an additional $236,340, which includes $91,000 for overtime. The district also will spend $18,000 for Motorola 1500 XTS radios and $5,040 on uniforms. The school board is expected to approve the expenditures through its annual budget process.

Wilson said he has already received interest from qualified applicants to work as CSOs. Most of them are recently retired personnel, who like the idea of earning $60 a day for four hours work.

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CHICAGO (WLS) — Scam artists are ripping off consumers by asking for payment through the popular, legitimate pre-paid money card Green Dot, according to the Chicago Better Business Bureau.

“I am very, very much ashamed of the situation,” Magda Urbaniak said. The River Grove resident got a call offering her a $10,000 loan. “Caught me in the right moment because my daughter’s birthday was approaching she was turning 18 and I wanted to buy her a car.”

The catch: She had to rush to a convenient store and put money on a Green Dot card, which can be used as a pre-paid card or to pay bills with the account number on the back. Urbaniak says she got one for $500 and then the so-called loan advisor gave her several reasons why she had to keep going back to stores to get more. She spent a total of $1,500.

“I called him an hour later and he said the money is processed, go check your account . I checked and thing was there,” Urbaniak said.

The loan never showed. When she called the man back, the I-Team was there.

“So, do you want me to send the money the same way as before with the Green Dot?” she asked.

The Better Business Bureau has gotten hundreds of similar calls in the last several weeks about different schemes all connected to crooks asking victims for Green Dot account numbers. The Attorney General’s Office also said it’s getting a “steady stream” of complaints.

Recently, a Lakeview business owner fell victim to a phony ComEd rep who wanted a Green Dot card.

“I think it is a very popular card for consumers. It has legitimate services and has been around for a little bit of time. The scammers picked up on it because they market themselves pretty well. Consumers know about them,” BBB Steve Bernas said.

Green Dot warned customers on its website and on the back of its card that if anyone asks for an account number, it’s a scam; and Green Dot is not responsible for paying consumers back.

“They can take that number that you provide them over the phone and take the money out of the account pretty quickly and it is untraceable, like wiring your money outside the country,” Bernas said.

“He was very personable. He was saying about his life, he is single father. He has kids and if anything goes wrong, he is gonna pay the money,” Urbaniak said.

The ABC7 I-Team called the man who offered Urbaniak the loan, but never got a return call. Consumer experts say the best advice is not to give anyone prepaid card or money information.

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US Demand for Private Security Services to Reach $63.8 Billion in 2016

Demand for private contracted security services in the U.S. is projected to increase 5.2% annually to $63.8 billion in 2016.

The market will be supported by a high perceived risk of crime (from conventional violent and property crimes to white collar crimes and terrorism) and a concern that public safety officials are overburdened.

The outsourcing of security activities to contracted firms, instead of relying on in-house security, will support demand.

The privatization of some public safety operations, such as guarding government facilities and correctional facilities management, will also boost gains. Global Information Inc (GII) is pleased to present the latest market research on the global security industry.

Private Security Services Security services that capitalize on continuing technological developments hold especially good prospects. For instance, both security consulting and systems integration revenues will see above-average growth.

Security consultants and systems integrators are able to manage a wide variety of services when creating, upgrading or implementing security plans and when installing or upgrading complex electronic security devices. In addition, the trend toward more sophisticated and automated security electronics that are increasingly integrated with other building operations will boost growth for these services. An Executive Summary for this report and free sample pages from the full document are available at

Global Home Security Solutions Market 2011-2015 The global market for home security solutions is forecast to grow at a 8.9% CAGR over the period 2011-2015. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the increasing security concerns across the globe.

The Global Home Security Solutions market has also been witnessing the transformation from a technology-driven to a consumer-driven industry.

However, the lack of awareness with respect to advancements in technology could pose a challenge to the growth of this market. Key vendors dominating this market space include Bosch Security Systems Inc., Honeywell International Inc. and Tyco International Ltd. Other vendors mentioned in the report are Inc., GE Security Inc., AMX Corp., Control4 Corp., GE Security Inc., Home Automation Inc., Icontrol Networks Inc. and Siemens Building Technologies AG.

An Executive Summary for this report and free sample pages from the full document are available at

The Market for Home Control and Security Systems Parks Associates’ report finds that 14% of all U.S. broadband households are “highly interested” in receiving security services from their ISPs. Further, consumers with professional monitoring, 16% of all U.S. households, are also interested in the new bundling and service options that come with Internet-enabled systems.

About 40% would switch from their current monitoring provider if that company does not offer new features such as email alerts, energy management, and lighting automation functions, revealing the importance of bundled services and new IP features in customer retention and subscriber growth.

Companies including AT&T Digital Life, Time Warner, and Comcast are entering the security market to lure first-time security-system users and prompt current customers to switch providers. Parks Associates research shows that communications providers’ reputations, lower fees, new benefits, and bundling deals all contribute to a consumers desire to switch services.

Meanwhile, providers such as AT&T and ADT Security, are investing for the long-term future of home management and health services that enhance consumers daily lives. This report analyzes consumer demand for IP-enabled home systems, including security, home control, and energy management systems. It draws from multiple surveys to highlight trends and consumer preferences on feature sets and pricing.

An Executive Summary for this report and free sample pages from the full document are available at

The Security Dealer Perspective Dealers and installers play a key role in the market for home security systems and have an up-close view of market changes. Their views provide insight into the how the market is evolving and how quickly consumers will adopt the new interactive services offered by traditional players and new entrants like Comcast and AT&T. This report presents Parks Associates’ latest survey of security system installers and their views on market changes including the introduction of interactive services and the entry of broadband providers into the space. It also extensively profiles their sales, installations, and other business activities An Executive Summary for this report and free sample pages from the full document are available at

About Global Information Inc. Global Information (GII) ( is an information service company partnering with over 300 research companies around the world. Global Information has been in the business of distributing technical and market research for more than 25 years. Expanded from its original headquarters in Japan, Global Information now has offices in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Europe and the United States.

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Ex-prison guard charged with workers’ comp fraud

A lengthy investigation and surveillance videos led to a 47-year-old former prison guard being charged with fraudulently collecting more than $2.7 million in workers’ compensation payments. David Brownell was arrested Wednesday in Tampa and freed from the Hillsborough County Jail on $50,000 bail.

As a state of Florida employee, Brownell’s claim was paid by the state Division of Risk Management, which reported he received more than $563,000 for alleged lost income.

Brownell filed a workers’ compensation claim in 1995 claiming that his work had exposed him to rats and rat feces that resulted in respiratory problems and 24-hour-a-day dependency on oxygen. However, investigators for the Department of Financial Services said extensive video surveillance over several years show that not only was Brownell not oxygen-dependent but was able to play guitar in a band, drive vehicles and smoke cigarettes.

“It is very disheartening to think that someone sworn to uphold the law may have violated it, and to such a costly degree,” CFO Jeff Atwater said in a prepared statement announcing Brownell’s arrest.

Brownell was arrested while wearing an oxygen mask. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison.

Officials estimate such forms of fraud raise premiums for businesses and take an estimated billion dollars a year out of Florida’s economy. The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Fraud reports that this year through the end of September its fraud unit has built cases leading to 121 arrests and 78 convictions resulting in $1.5 million in court-ordered restitution.

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Experian Customers Unsafe as Hackers Steal Credit Report Data

When hackers broke into computers at Abilene Telco Federal Credit Union last year, they gained access to sensitive financial information on people from far beyond the bank’s home in west-central Texas.

The cyberthieves broke into an employee’s computer in September 2011 and stole the password for the bank’s online account with Experian Plc, the credit reporting agency with data on more than 740 million consumers. The intruders then downloaded credit reports on 847 people, said Dana Pardee, a branch manager at the bank. They took Social Security numbers, birthdates and detailed financial data on people across the country who had never done business with Abilene Telco, which has two locations and serves a city of 117,000.

The incident is one of 86 data breaches since 2006 that expose flaws in the way credit-reporting agencies protect their databases. Instead of directly targeting Experian, Equifax Inc. and TransUnion Corp., hackers are attacking affiliated businesses, such as banks, auto dealers and even a police department that rely on reporting agencies for background credit checks.

“This is profoundly important, because it illustrates a growing problem when it comes to data breaches and security –the chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a former attorney general who has investigated credit-rating agencies before, said in an interview. “If their customers have inadequate security practices, so do the credit bureaus.”

Six States

This approach has netted more than 17,000 credit reports taken from the agencies since 2006, according to’s examination of hundreds of pages of breach notification letters sent to victims. The incidents were outlined in correspondence from the credit bureaus to victims in six states — Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina and Vermont. The letters were discovered mostly through public-records requests by a privacy advocate who goes by the online pseudonym Dissent Doe and who asked not to be identified to preserve the separation between profession and advocacy.

Experian, based in Dublin, and Chicago-based TransUnion said in statements that the breaches began with infections of customers’ computers, an area over which they have little control. The credit bureaus said that their databases weren’t breached directly.

Tim Klein, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Equifax, and Clifton O’Neal, a spokesman for TransUnion, declined to comment on specific cases. Neither would provide details about any breaches they’ve had involving the compromised log-ins of clients.

Protect Consumers

“We continue to invest in the security systems we have in place to protect our clients and consumers,” Gerry Tschopp, a spokesman for Experian, said in an e-mailed statement. “Of course, the first line of defense lies with end users who are obligated to manage and protect their credentials, which in all these instances were compromised through malware that infected their hardware and other illegal means.”
Representatives of Abilene Telco said no bank employees were involved in the data breaches.

“We don’t know what happened and we don’t know how it happened — we just know we didn’t do it,” said Pardee, the branch manager at Abilene Telco, now renamed First Priority Credit Union, recalls telling victims who called the bank after discovering that someone had viewed their credit reports.

Experian’s database was breached 80 times for a total of almost 15,500 credit reports, Equifax’s was breached four times for more than 1,200 reports, and TransUnion’s was breached two times for almost 500 reports, according to the website, where Dissent Doe and other advocates have posted the documents. All of the incidents involved hackers stealing online log-in credentials from the credit bureaus’ customers.

Congress Investigation

The incidents shed new light on security weaknesses at credit bureaus at a time they are under investigation by both houses of Congress over how much data they collect and how it’s used. While security hasn’t been a focus of the probes, the breaches are cause for further investigation, Blumenthal said.

Dissent Doe has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, arguing for a formal investigation into Experian’s security practices and urging lawmakers to enact legislation that creates a national database of breach reports.

The FTC declined to comment specifically on the incidents. The agency has punished data brokers when hacking attacks on their customers led to the theft of credit reports. Last year, the FTC sued three credit-report resellers when compromised client log-ins resulted in more than 1,800 stolen reports. The agency also filed a lawsuit in 2008 against a mortgage lender after at least 400 credit reports were stolen.

Failure to Check

The commission faulted the companies for failing to check whether their customers had sufficient security and for not adequately monitoring suspicious behavior coming from them. The cases were settled, with the companies agreeing to 20 years of security audits.

“If you are providing access through an online portal, it’s your responsibility to secure that portal,” Maneesha Mithal, associate director of the FTC’s division of privacy and identity, said in an interview.
Credit reports are highly coveted in an identity theft industry that the U.S. Department of Justice estimates affected more than 8.6 million people and cost U.S. households $13.3 billion in direct financial losses in 2010.

FTC Crackdown

When criminals steal a credit report, they get enough information to take out new credit cards, qualify for loans, get a driver’s license and even obtain medical treatment, according to Chris Jay Hoofnagle, director of information privacy programs for the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology.

“One basic problem is that unsophisticated companies tend to treat their own customers as insiders, and not treat them with the type of skepticism and controls aimed at outsiders (hackers),” he wrote in an e-mail. “Of course, the insider risk is a massive problem.”

A crackdown by the FTC almost a decade ago led to stronger security measures among information brokers, including credit bureaus, according to Jay Foley, a partner with the consulting firm ID Theft Info Source, who has followed the industry since 1999. Those efforts, though, have focused mostly on preventing the data providers from being tricked into giving criminals accounts that give them access to credit reports, Foley said.

A series of breaches at ChoicePoint and Seisint, data brokers that were bought by LexisNexis parent Reed Elsevier Plc, led to landmark settlements that served as a warning to the industry. The newly disclosed breaches show that credit bureaus haven’t invested enough in fraud-detection technology to spot odd behavior coming from customers, Foley said.

The company has since improved its security with a number of measures including audits and additional fraud-detection technologies, Stephen Brown, a spokesman for Reed Elsevier’s LexisNexis division, said in a statement.

“The industry has cleaned up its act, but the act it was cleaning up was who they were allowing to have credentials,” Foley said in an interview. So instead, criminals are going through the third parties that have already gotten approval, he said.

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The Luxury Repo Men

The white yacht bobbed at the end of a pier on the St. Johns River in Central Florida. On the opposite riverbank, several men tried to convey boredom from a distance: stretching, taking off sunglasses, yawning, squinting, replacing sunglasses. The small team’s leader, Ken Cage, peeked at the boat through binoculars, then turned with a snap. “That’s the one,” he said.

The four men—Cage, his No. 2 man, a boat captain, and a driver—hustled into two trucks, wheeled over a river bridge, and entered the marina. They walked quickly along the waterfront until they saw their target—a gleaming Luhrs yacht—and huddled again behind a patch of tall grass. “That has to be our boat,” Cage said. “Has to be.” The team fell silent. An alligator lay motionless in the grass three feet away.

The St. Johns emerges from central swampland and descends less than an inch per mile, lolling instead of rolling. The marsh seemed to be reclaiming the small marina itself, host to only a handful of working boats. It made a strange home for a seagoing sport yacht. “He probably knows we’re after him,” Cage said. “He figured we’d never find it here. See how he has it tied parallel to the dock?” All the other boats sat like parked cars, nose to the dock. “He wants an easy getaway.”

Cage and his guys make a living taking from the rich. He’s one of a handful of the world’s most sophisticated repo men. And while the language may be different from the doorbusters who grab TVs, the game is the same: On behalf of banks Cage nabs high-dollar toys from self-styled magnates who find themselves overleveraged. Many of the deadbeat owners made a killing in finance and real estate during the economic bubble—expanding it, even—and were caught out of position when it burst. So now men like Cage steal $20 million jets like they were jalopies. And fast boats. Even, on one occasion, a racehorse.

A pair of local fishermen stepped out of a building on the dock, looked curiously toward the newcomers, and took a few steps forward.

“Now or never,” Cage said. He bounded to the end of the pier and climbed onto the yacht’s deck. The other team members, including Cage’s lieutenant, Randy Craft, moved to their assigned lookout positions on the dock. Craft always handles security; he’s a colossal human, with a polished bald head and fists that hang like wrecking balls. (He had, moments ago, tried to grab the immobile alligator by the tail, sending it thrashing into the river. “Ah, just a small one,” he said dismissively.)

Cage made his way to the stern and leaned over the rear to examine the hull number. “This is it,” he said.

Craft leapt aboard and pulled out a small set of lock-picking tools. While he kneeled at the cabin hatch, focused on its lock, Cage’s boat captain jumped aboard. “Look,” he said, and pointed to the owner’s cooler full of beer, sitting in the sun with the ice not yet melted. Cage hurried to untie the boat from the dock. If the owner appeared before they got the engines running, they would shove away with no power and drift ever so slowly until they could get her started.

With a final flick, Craft popped the lock. He climbed down into the cabin, where the bed was rumpled from a recent sleeper. The whole endeavor suddenly felt less like an act of piracy than a home invasion, but Craft stayed focused. He grabbed the boat’s ignition keys from a shelf and tossed them to the captain, who fired up the twin diesel engines. And then, just like that—as the two locals on the dock stood staring—the yacht pulled away from the pier. The bow tipped up as it gunned toward Cage’s own hidden marina to the south. The owner might return soon from a bathroom, or newsstand, or diner, to find his boat gone.

Cage climbed up to the yacht’s bridge, into the wind, and sat grinning. “This is the best part,” he said. Half-exposed cypress trees lined the riverside where turtles and herons posed in the Florida sun. Not bad for the scene of a heist. “Yeah,” he said. “But I really like doing jets.”

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Why my employees won’t steal from me: 5 myths

The statistics are staggering. The latest National Retail Security Survey states that 45 percent of losses to retailers are attributed to theft by employees. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) reports that 5 percent of revenues of a typical organization are stolen by company workers. The average internal fraud scheme goes undetected for 18 months. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable since they don’t have the resources or the processes in place to avoid and/or detect fraud activity.

With no formal loss prevention programs in place, many owners and managers rely on their experience and expertise to react to incidences of employees stealing. Others rely on their beliefs, perceptions and ideals that their employees would not steal from them for a number of reasons. The following are myths associated with those ideological thoughts:

My employees would not steal from me because …

1. They Like Me – While it is true that good relationships with the boss may deter a small percentage of employees from stealing, research has shown that dishonest employees are driven by a number of factors. Loss Prevention professionals cite the presence of the Theft Triangle as the breeding ground for employee theft. When these elements are present in the workplace, employees may be tempted to steal or become involved in other counterproductive behaviors.

Theft Triangle

Motive – Potential gain and use for the cash or product
Opportunity – Ability to quickly and safely steal the cash or product
Low Risk of Detection – Perception of low probability of getting caught

The employees may genuinely like the manager or owner, but if the three factors are present in the work environment, the temptation to steal may override friendship.

2. They’re My Best Employees – Many managers and employers perceive that because certain employees are self-motivated, hard workers, they do not have any integrity issues. They are above reproach simply because they exceed expectations in their performance. And because of that belief, those employees are not scrutinized for compliance to the rules, nor suspected of counterproductive behavior or theft. Without accountability to the rules, even the best of employees may take advantage and steal.

3. I Show That I Trust Them – It is essential that trust be developed throughout any organization. It is the foundation of every great relationship. In the world of business, the trust must be validated with accountability. Unfortunately managers and owners may interpret showing trust as not checking up on employees. Without a check and balance process or audit system, employees may perceive that there is low risk of getting caught. All incidences of employee theft violate trust. Show your employees that you trust them, but follow up on the performance expectations you have established.

4. They Have a Clean Background – Pre-employment background checks are significant in establishing a comprehensive loss prevention program. Hiring employees without criminal convictions may be a good start in creating an environment of honesty and trust. High integrity must permeate the organization. With a culture devoid of strong policies and procedures supported by compliance processes and effective supervision, employees may steal with a compelling motive, opportunity and the perception that they won’t get caught. The ACFE reports that of the 1,388 internal frauds investigated by Certified Fraud Examiners in the past year, 87 percent of them were perpetuated by first time offenders. They cited the lack of internal controls as the key factor in the crimes that triggered the criminal behavior.

5. I Pay Them a Higher Wage – Assumptions are made that paying employees a higher wage than their counterparts with other companies will make them happy. If employees are happy with their wages they won’t steal. It’s another myth. Sociological studies have shown that employees are influenced by the culture established by the work environment. Approximately 10 percent of the employees are morally incorruptible. They don’t bend or break the rules. They don’t steal given any opportunity to do so. Additionally, approximately 10 percent of employees bend and break policies and procedures with regularity and are prone to steal. They are the challenge of Human Resource personnel in medium and larger size businesses and a big problem for the smaller companies. The remaining 80 percent of the employee’s behavior in the workplace is influenced by the culture and attitudes. If the rules are clear and compliance is expected, employee behavior gravitates to following those rules. If the counterproductive behavior of the small percentage of the problem employees is not addressed and allowed to flourish, other employees will be influenced by that behavior. Ninety percent of the workforce can be positively influenced to compliant behavior with well written rules, clear expectations and effective follow-up.

We want to believe that employees won’t steal from us. We really do. We use these reasons to support our views. But, on their merits, these views are indeed myths. Sociological studies on workplace behavior, criminal investigations on employee fraud, and anecdotal stories have proven that the workplace environment must be controlled to avoid counterproductive behavior and theft. Policies and procedures must be well written. Compliance to the rules and behavior expectations must be clear. Internal controls must be established and audited. Counterproductive behavior must be addressed effectively, and the elements of the Theft Triangle must be eliminated. It must be known in the work environment that opportunities to steal are low and the probability of getting caught is high. You then might be right when you say; my employees won’t steal from me.

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