Embezzlement cases rising in Maine

This is really no surprise. If you combine the long term poor economy with poor internal controls, this is what you get. The economy in Maine is perpetually poor. I’m not surprised at some LinkedIn posts from professionals who return or move to Maine, expecting to slide into a comparable job to the one they left. They seem shocked at the low salaries and lack of opportunities. Welcome to Maine. Life is harder here. But in years past, and still to a great extent, the general population of Maine is hardscrabble, hard working and honest. Yes, that sounds naive, but after making allowances for the 5% of people who will steal anything every chance they get, I think Mainers instinctively fall back on the feeling that we’re all in this together, so do unto others.That’s just one of many reasons to live here.

But the current recession has hit people especially hard. Make no mistake, there are jobs to be had. They are minimum wage, no-benefit jobs, but if you can work, there is work.

But people seem greedier now than ever before. Take a person barely making ends meet on $20,000 a year. They will say, if only I could make $10,000 more a year, my life would be so much better. I’d be on easy street. But then take the person making $30,000, and they will lament their lot in life and swear that if they could get a $10,000 a year raise, life would be a breeze. And so on. We confuse wants with needs very quickly and lose sight of how little we really require.

Look at the database of embezzlement cases I’ve posted on this blog and look at the staggering dollar amounts and the pitiful rationalizations when there have been any.

There is no excuse for poor or inadequate internal controls. As long as any organization has more than a single member, you can establish some manner of no or low cost segregation of duties internal control.

The Vermont State Auditor has sme simple but effective tools and checklists for internal controls and segregation of duties on their web site. Scroll down to the bottom for the links to these documents.

http://auditor.vermont.gov/forms_guides

 

The cases include people stealing from towns, banks, libraries, lawyers and civic organizations.

The Associated Press, 10/29/2012

LEWISTON — The number of embezzlement is on the rise in Maine.

Between 1987 and 2002, no more than 20 people were arrested for embezzlement each year.

The Sun Journal of Lewiston reports that the numbers started going up in 2003, with the count growing to 43 in 2010 and 56 in 2011.

The cases have included people stealing from towns, banks, libraries, lawyers and civic organizations.

Officials say there are a number of theories on why the numbers are going up, including that there are simply more people embezzling, that more people are getting caught, that victims are more willing to report the thefts, and that police and prosecutors are more willing to investigate and prosecute.

 

 

On October 31, 2012, the Sun Journal said:

LEWISTON, Maine — For the second year in a row, Maine has been ranked second-worst, after Hawaii, in the country for making a living, according to the finance website MoneyRates.com.

Maine also ranked eighth among the 10 worst states in which to retire, according to MoneyRates.

The rankings, combined with a Gallup poll released in August that suggested Mainers were more pessimistic than other Americans about their standard of living improving, seem to paint a dire picture for the state’s future.

But Richard Barrington, the senior financial adviser at MoneyRates who compiled the list, said Mainers and New Englanders, in general, tend to enjoy a higher quality of life in cleaner environments and safer communities.

 

Finally, here is a link to embezzlement cases in Vermont. Maine and Vermont are the 2 least likely states where you would expect widespread embezzlement fraud.

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/section/TOPICS0107/Vermont-Embezzlement-Epidemic

 

 



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This entry was posted on October 29, 2012 and is filed under Fraud and Embezzlement. Written by: . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.