He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, (King James Bible). Highlighting was added by this examiner to illustrate that this prohibition became the eighth commandment of God. It is the basic moral commitment of one person to another person’s property in a civilized society.
Kelly Otte is the executive director of the PACE Center for Girls in Tallahassee, Florida. On Sunday, 28 October 2012, an article she authored was published in the Tallahassee Democrat’s Business Section concerning theft of funds within any organization. She cautioned all business owners to establish fool proof accounting procedures to prevent theft of company funds, especially those involving non-profit funds. She cautioned all business owners to install double checking procedures over funds accountability.
Fraud, embezzlement, robbery, burglary, stealing, taking, depriving are words describing how one person “acts” to commit the crime. This is just one part of the total crime of the taking of someone else’s property. The other part is the intent to keep and deprive the true owner of that property. The law is clear that the taking cannot be accidental or by mistake, such as the taking of someone else’s coat at a restaurant. There is also the factor of taking permanently or temporarily, such as the taking of a neighbor’s tools without permission, but returning them later.
This examiner was the former director of the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) Fraud School and had many discussions with convicted military personnel involved in the crime of fraud and criminal embezzlement. During each course session, the school arranged for many of the convicted persons serving time at Fort Leavenworth prison to speak to CID students as to how and why (motive) they committed the crime. The school’s philosophy was that there is no better way to teach CID agents how to investigate fraud than to bring in the criminals to share how they committed fraud and how they got caught. In most cases the fraud convicted individual cited three aspects of the act they committed.
First was the opportunity to commit, second was the greed and the need to commit and the third was to rationalize that stealing from the Government was not immoral or bad. Some cited that the first time they took money, or property, on the job was by mistake or accident. A former military club manager who was convicted of taking funds from the system told of how no one every checked his club records of sales or pay outs from slot machines. The manager started paying himself from phony jackpots every evening of several thousands of dollars.
One of the investigative techniques developed from the school was to carefully look into a suspected manager’s standard of personal living. If the E8, Master Sergeant, Club Manager, whose military salary did not support the car he was driving or the house he was living in; the investigating agent had some indication that there was a crime being committed. This was exactly the case here in Tallahassee upon discovery of missing funds at the Innovation Park Center. The manager’s family had been living well beyond the salaries of both husband and wife with several cars, boats, new swimming pool and jewelry.
A Private First Class E-2 soldier working in personnel was driving a new Porsche alerted CID agents. He was later convicted of accepting money from other soldiers to falsify their personnel records in order to receive higher rank. He confessed that the first time a record was changed in favor of a soldier for promotion, it was a mistake. He then solicited soldiers for money to make intentional record changes and he got away with it for two years. It was getting too greedy and the life style that caught the eye of the CID.
Stealing is now a very profitable cybercrime that we now call a “scam”. Few scammers live by the “thou shall not steal” commandment, in fact it is the “thou shall steal” on the Internet whatever you can get away with. Scammers rationalize their acts by claiming people are too gullible and do not protect their on-line accounts. The Internet has few criminal laws to convict and scammers know how careless people are on their computers. Stealing is now a big business.
One of the cleverest methods of stealing involved a young soldier who copied official looking invoices from companies selling office supplies. He would complete the invoices for pens, paper, paperclips, whiteout ink, etc. The invoices would be sent to hundreds of businesses and about ten to fifteen percent would send him money for the non-existing supplies. This same soldier would also tear out his checking deposit slips and place them in a bank’s counter check box in the bank lobby for someone to write a deposit using his electronically coded deposit slips. This is how he got caught by being too greedy. His rationalization was also that it was easy and that it was a challenge to outsmart the system.