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Embezzlement during employment (8)

After receiving a panicky call from one of our clients that a large part of his stock had been stolen from his store, BN started an investigation. The client expressed his doubts about the circumstances surrounding the incident.

When we arrived at the store, we found a female employee lying behind the counter, with a doctor beside her trying to help her stop hyperventilating.  Two awkward looking employees stood aside. One of them appeared to have a relationship with the lady lying behind the counter.  From emergency switchboard data it appeared the store’s alarm had been activated at 21:30 hrs the previous evening and been de-activated at 09:13 hrs the next morning.

The anxious employee informed us that his girlfriend had activated the alarm at 21:30. When they arrived at the store that morning, the employee told us, the roll-down shutters were already open and the alarm had been de-activated.  He suspected that between closure of the shop the previous evening and opening the next morning, there had been a burglary in which most of the shop window goods had been stolen.

The emergency switchboard data proved that this was incorrect. The employee told us that he had been working in the store the previous evening, together with his girlfriend and an employee from another store. He also told us that a customer had threatened him that evening and robbed him of some personal belongings that he had left on the counter. He then told us he had wanted to go to the police immediately after closing the store to report the robbery.

After we informed him that his account of what had happened clearly did not match the truth, he confessed he had made up the robbery story in order to collect the insurance money. We informed him that his story about the burglary was not plausible either, after which he hesitantly admitted he had taken the more expensive goods out of the shop window the previous evening, along with his girlfriend, the employee from the other store and an employee who had called in sick. They had done so before closure of the store, and had put the goods in sports bags and taken them to a car parked nearby. The ‘sick’ colleague had orchestrated the whole story of the burglary because of a dispute with his employer. We could not interview the hyperventilating girlfriend since she was apparently overwhelmed by all the attention the ‘burglary’ got from the police and BN. The employee from the other store categorically denied any knowledge of an orchestrated ‘burglary’.

We contacted the police detective in charge of the case and informed him of our findings. He was genuinely surprised that the truth had come out so quickly and told us he also had his suspicions about the case.

After consultation with the Justice Department, all employees were arrested by four detectives and transferred to the police station for further questioning. During this interrogation all suspects confessed to the embezzlement and most of the stock was later found at a local’s house and returned to its rightful owner.

Our client, obviously very relieved that the case had been solved, now had an organizational issue. For how does one find four employees within one day to man the stores? We informed our client that it is possible to claim financial loss due to temporary closure of the store as well as research costs from the suspects. In fact, a magistrate’s court recently ruled that the costs of research conducted by a private agency can be claimed from the perpetrator(s).

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Helpdeskfraude is an initiative of Bedrijfsrecherche Nederland. This help desk can help you find a solution if you find yourself a victim of fraud or if company fraud is suspected. For further information please go to www.helpdeskfraude.nl