Embezzlement Cases are on the Rise in Maine
Embezzlement cases are on the rise in Maine and several people were indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury for stealing money on Wednesday. “It’s kind of the American way to believe that you’re underpaid and that’s how a lot of people justify taking money from their employers,” said Dewey Martin, the Director of the School of Accounting at Husson University. Ellen Wilson, 55, who’s also known as Ellen Gunstone, was employed by Sprague’s Nursery and Garden Center in Bangor. She’s been indicted for theft by unauthorized taking for the second time in nine years. Marin said “As soon as they take it the first time and it becomes easy, now you’re in trouble.”Bruce Fowle, 62, former treasurer of the Bangor-Breakfast Kiwanis Club and Greater Bangor 4th of July Corporation is accused of taking around $140,000 from those groups.The investigation began in August when members of the organizations realized money was missing.”I will still trust people until they prove to me that I shouldn’t, but when it comes to handling my money…trust only goes so far,” said the Director.Martin said embezzlement happens more than you think and over-spending may not always be caught by an accountant. “An audit is not designed to detect fraud. That’s not the motivation of an audit. It’s to look at the financial statements.”The CPA also said one of the most important things for a business or non-profit is internal control. Owners need to be a watchdog. “If I’m on a finance committee, I’m going to convince the employees that I’m looking over their shoulder.”He also suggests a Bonding insurance policy. It might cost a company money upfront, but it can save you in the long run. “It’s insurance. If you have a loss and can prove that it was an employee who took it, you can recover the money.”Martin said many businesses don’t look into fraud until something happens, but in today’s economy, you need be ready for anything.