Financial Crime – On An Upswing?

Lately we have been inundated with calls for new matters involving thefts and other financial matters.  Just having finished writing up another embezzlement investigation, there remains one for me to document and two in progress waiting on the last pieces of information.   Two more are waiting to be started.  We just completed 8 to 9 cases of theft or embezzlement, all matters being investigated concurrently, which a record for us.  We have several more in the works in various stages.

Recently I was contacted by a journalist from a southern state who indicated their region had been experiencing an extremely high rate of employee thefts and embezzlements.  She wanted to know if I had any explanations for why these cases all of a sudden were becoming daily occurrences, and also wanted to know if it was due to an increase in awareness or an increase in the number of incidents.  I told her I didn’t know for sure, but my best guess if that it is due to the increased level of thefts that have been occurring.

I have been asking colleagues and members of law enforcement over the last few weeks if they have been experiencing any trends with financial crimes and matters.  In every case the person I asked indicated they have been seeing a significant increase in this area.

Two nights ago while preparing for speaking at a session last evening, I used Google News to research how much theft and embezzlement is occurring.  I entered the word “embezzlement’ into Google News, and searched the articles found.  Wanting to see how many were dated within the last 30 days, I clicked on the next page until I found one article that was close to 30 days old.  It took me 17 pages of Google News before I found the first embezzlement article close to 30 days, and it was actually 27 days old.  If statistically one in nine ever make their way into the public eye, and if Google News reports ten articles per page, that means there were 17 pages at 10 articles, or 170 articles, and multiplied by nine (because eight out of nine will never be on Google News), that roughly translates into 1,530 instances of embezzlement (17 x 10) x 9 )… in the last 30 days!

Is the economy to blame?  Have times become so financially challenging that more and more people are turning towards theft to solve their individual financial problems?  Perhaps.  But in my experience with the matters I have been working, the thefts have been occurring for years, far longer than the decline in the economy started in 2007 and 2008.  These folks have simply been living life beyond their means, or stealing to fuel a habit, and the economy crashing while they continued to steal creates the illusiuon that their thefts were attributable to the decline.

If anyone has any solid insight into what is happening with financial crimes, I’d love to hear from you.

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