When you take a managerial, human resources, accounting or similar position with a company or receive a promotion, you’re probably on your best behavior for the first few weeks. While you might realize that you have access to accounts or petty cash with little oversight, you aren’t likely to abuse that power.

However, as you adjust to your new job responsibilities, you may realize that there isn’t really adequate oversight regarding certain financial transactions. Some people in positions of financial trust may realize that there is a way for them to game the system at their place of employment.

When someone uses their employer’s trust as a way to access or misappropriate company resources, they engage in embezzlement. Embezzlement is one of the more serious white-collar crimes because it not only results in criminal penalties but can also have long-term implications for your future employment opportunities.

Even small amounts of embezzlement can have a big impact

There have been many embezzlement schemes where people thought that what they tried to take from their employer was so small that no one would notice. However, while some companies might temporarily miss shortages in their account, the longer you continue to take money from your employer, the more likely it is that you will get caught.

Even people who don’t directly take funds from accounts or pocket petty cash could get caught. For example, people trying to pass off personal purchases as reimbursable charges or those using the company credit card for personal reasons might eventually get caught and held accountable for the full value of those charges.

Once a company knows that you have stolen from them once, they are likely to scrutinize their financial records closely and find other similar transactions. The charges will likely reflect the total value of the amount embezzled, not the amount involved in a single act.

There are many ways to defend against embezzlement accusations

Those accused of embezzlement have a number of options available regarding a criminal defense strategy. Going over your experience and the charges and evidence against you with an experienced criminal defense attorney can be an important first step in protecting yourself when your employer accuses you of embezzlement.