Stealing From Your Employer Is Easy

Toner cartridges are just the start. 10 tips for really bringing home the dough.

Last week Calvin Duncan, a former mailroom clerk at the Philadelphia Water Department, pleaded guilty to a fraud scheme. It seems that Duncan, who stocked and changed ink cartridges and copier toner for his employer, regularly purchased far more supplies than the water department needed and then turned around and sold the extras to a private company at below market rate. All went well for about six years, with Duncan netting upwards of $550,000.  The whole ordeal has cost the city around $1.3 million.

Nice one Calvin. You have to respect a guy who has enough chutzpah to steal from his company for years and still sleep like a baby at night, thinking it’ll never come back around to him. Do you have Calvin’s courage? Are you thinking of stealing from your employer, too? Well, good for you. Those fat-cat, 1-percenters are pocketing too much dough anyway. You work hard. You don’t get paid enough. You deserve more. I get it. So let me help. Stealing from an employer is a tradition as American as Thanksgiving. But the key is doing it right. So here are a few ideas to help you out.

1. Check for unlocked inventory. Take a stretch and walk around the place a bit. Make friends with a couple of dudes in the warehouse. Look for stuff lying around. Warehouse guys are notoriously forgetful. And they often dump stuff behind the building. Look for items that you can easily resell on Ebay without people noticing — office supplies, older furniture, a laptop lying around, that carton of cleaning solvents. Hey, you’re just helping to keep things organized and get rid of the junk, right? Oh, and keep an eye out for copper piping — that’s a goldmine too. Make your move early in the morning or at night when everyone’s gone. Keep a look out for video cameras. And take the time to alter the inventory sheets. They’re usually easy to find, hanging on a clipboard, and easy to change. If you keep your greed in check, you can net as much as our friend Calvin in just a few years.

2. Steal a few checks and alter the signature. Small business owners always leave checks lying around or unlocked. They never think to put them in a safe and record the last number used. It’s just too difficult to remember. So grab a few from the middle of the pile and practice your boss’s signature. Then create a couple of fake companies and write out a few small checks to them. To make it really good, create a fake invoice to go along with the checks. If you’re the company’s bookkeeper then no one will ever know. If not, then just find where the bookkeeper files their invoices and stick the “paid” invoice there.

3. Get paid directly. If you’re working in accounting, bookkeeping or accounts receivable, then you’ve got lots of ways to make a few extra bucks without your employer ever knowing. For example, when a customer pays a bill, just credit it out of your accounting system (products like QuickBooks and Peachtree easily let you do this) and then endorse the check either over to yourself or a company owned by you. Boom! Or better yet, if you know the customer, just tell them that your company’s PO Box and “pay to” name has changed and have them send their checks made out to your Miami-based company which is where you’ll ultimately arrive before fleeing to Brazil.

4. Grab some petty cash. No one really keeps an eye on petty cash. It’s usually in a box somewhere behind your bookkeeper’s desk. And the blank slips are normally right there too. Boy these internal controls are tight, aren’t they? Just grab $50 now and then and make it out for gas or supplies or something. Keep the amounts low and it’ll go right under the radar.

5. Bribe a supplier. If you’re responsible for purchasing anything then you can make some sweet deals with your suppliers. Just tell them your boss is threatening to take his business elsewhere. Then offer to stick your neck out on his behalf… if you and he can find a way to “make something happen.” Suppliers can be pretty shameless when it comes to keeping their customers. Phillies tickets are certainly worth nothing. But Eagles and Flyers may have some value. Or you can just take cash. Or gift cards. Get creative!

6. Sell confidential information. Your boss is terrible at keeping his information secure. But that’s not unusual for a small business person. So grab what you can: customers’ credit card numbers (hey… that’s another idea!), pricing data, formulas, employment agreements and test the waters. Which competitor could use this stuff? What crime syndicate can you sell those credit numbers to? And what’s it all worth, hmmm?

7. Tamper with your expenses. If you’re a salesperson on the road, you’ve got lots of ways to accumulate some extra cash. All you need is a copier and a bottle of “Wite-Out.” Gather up some blank receipts from the taxi cab. Learn how to print out more expensive plane itineraries and doctor them up to make them look like the real deal. Play around with restaurant checks. Conveniently “forget” that dinner receipt. Any trip you take out of the office can put an extra $25-$50 in your pocket if you’re creative enough.

8. Fake an injury. Workmen’s comp claims are a great way to get some extra moolah in your pocket even if you’re not injured at all. Just dig deep and call upon your high school acting skills. And ask a friendly doctor for help. Oh, my back! My back! It’s killing me! I can’t work! Must be a muscle thing! Just make sure to stop playing softball or tennis while you’re filing your claim. People do have cameras, you know. Be smart, keep a low profile, watch a lot of TV and you can bring home the bacon without ever leaving your sofa.

9. Volunteer to do the company’s bank reconciliations. Hey, you want to help out, right? You’re a team player, right?  Those bank reconciliations are a pain, and your boss is probably overpaying his accountant to do them. Volunteer for the job. Why? Because if you’re forging checks or receiving cash and endorsing to your own account, you can really cover your tracks if you’re the one doing the bank reconciliations. They’re easy, don’t worry.

10. Finally, and for God’s sake, don’t take a vacation! Don’t you realize that this is the main way people get found out? Not being in the office leaves the door open for some annoying little do-gooder to fill in for you and maybe take note of something that you’ve been doing that may seem out of place. You don’t want that, believe me. Your business is no one else’s business, right? And besides, vacations are for wimps. Put in a few years and take advantage of some of my suggestions and you can take that long vacation you’ve always wanted – first class. That, or serve 10-20 at county. Either way it’ll be relaxing.

So good for you Calvin Duncan. You almost did it. You’re an inspiration for others who want to steal from their employers. And please hurry up and serve your time. My toner’s starting to run low…