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Embezzlement: Misappropriation or theft?

On Behalf of | Dec 12, 2022 | White Collar Crime

Theft, simply put, is taking something that is not yours. Minor theft includes things like shoplifting from the grocery store. Major theft includes breaking into stores or homes, and you also have examples like grand theft auto, which involves the theft of motor vehicles.

But embezzlement, a white-collar crime, is both similar and very different. In some ways, it is a type of theft, but it’s also wise to consider how it may qualify as intentional misappropriation and what difference this can make.

How was the money used?

The issue is that embezzlement cases often involve individuals who do have the right to access the money that they are stealing from the company. It is not as if they are taking assets that they were never supposed to touch. They were given permission due to their employment. 

For example, an accountant may be given access to all of the company’s bank accounts. They also have access to the books, so they could take money from the bank accounts and then alter the books to make it look like the money was used for something else.

You can see how this is just a way of committing theft and then covering it up, but it is also the clear misappropriation of the funds in that account. The access itself was not illegal, but the employee knew that they were supposed to use the money in a different way – or use it to benefit the company – and they decided to misappropriate it and use it to benefit themselves. In fact, in cases of unintentional misappropriation, it may just be a mistake and not embezzlement at all. 

This is just one of the complexities of a white collar case, so be sure you know about all the legal steps you’ll have to take to protect your future and your freedom.