Embezzlement is usually a crime of opportunity and hubris combined. Most embezzlers hold positions of implicit trust inside their companies that make it easy for them to take money without anyone noticing (for a while). That's why your first reaction, once you realize that an employee or business partner has embezzled from the firm, may be shock and horror. After all, you trusted this person!
Your second reaction may be closer to panic. What's going to happen to the trust your clients and business associates have in your company if the word gets out that you've been fooled by someone inside your own business? In this day and age, a reputation for security is everything!
While your first instinct may be to involve the police and try to get the local prosecutor to press charges for embezzlement, that may not suit your ultimate goals. It may better serve your purposes to take civil measures against the embezzler instead. More than likely, you won't be able to get your money back if the embezzler is sitting in prison.
The smart thing to do is to consider all of your options before you act. In consultation with an attorney who has experience handling civil claims for embezzlement, you can talk about a plan to gather the evidence necessary to prove your employee's or partner's theft in a way that could be used in court later, if needed. You can also start to discuss plans for confronting the embezzler and how to secure restitution.
An attorney can also help you draw up the necessary legal documents that will resolve the issue quietly, without involving the police or a lot of publicity, like a statement from the embezzler acknowledging the wrongful conduct and a settlement agreement that will serve as a legally-enforceable contract obligating the embezzler to repay what he or she has stolen.
If you're struggling with the all-too-common problem of embezzlement, contact our office today to discuss solutions.