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What is embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a term that many people in Maryland understand is a type of white-collar crime, but may not know what it is specifically. In this post, we will provide a general overview of embezzlement and discuss how someone may find himself or herself facing serious criminal charges based on embezzlement accusations.

Certain jobs or legal statuses put people in charge of money belonging to other people or businesses, such as an employer or client. This requires trust in the person handling the money. Sometimes, that trust is violated and the person controlling the assets steals it for himself or herself. This, in a nutshell, is embezzlement.

To prove that a suspect committed this white-collar crime, prosecutors generally must prove four factors:

1. A fiduciary relationship between the suspect and the other party -- that is, the latter party trusted and relied upon the suspect to perform certain financial duties.

2. The suspect acquired the property in question through the relationship.

3. The suspect either took ownership of the property or transferred it to a third party.

4. The suspect acted intentionally.

Often, the embezzler will take steps to try to cover his or her tracks. This can involve manipulating accounting records, fraudulent bills or payroll checks.

Obviously, a business that believes someone is embezzling funds will do what it can to find the person responsible. Criminal charges may follow, including possible federal charges, depending on the amount of money alleged to have been stolen.

In many cases, someone who embezzled money from their employer did so because of a gambling addiction or desperate financial problems at home. However, they may face several years in prison if convicted.

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