Top Three Reasons Embezzlement Occurs

Medical practices suffer from one of the highest embezzlement rates of all service industries. In fact, some experts estimate that three out of four physicians could be victims of embezzlement at least one time during their career. 

Several factors can contribute to embezzlement but below are the top three:

  • Opportunity. For some, the opportunity to steal is too hard to resist. Having one "trusted" employee handling the daily transactions combined with a hands-off physician is opening the door to theft. Typically the biggest opportunity to steal involves a weakness in internal controls.
  • Pressure. Trying to keep up with the Joneses can add pressure to steal.  Perhaps an employee's spouse lost his or her job, or the employee is battling an addiction problem or just drowning in debt.
  • Rationalization. Thieves will typically rationalize their reasons to steal. They may tell themselves, "I deserve a raise, or I am just going to borrow the money and pay it back."

Is your practice at risk for one of these embezzlement schemes? Regardless of the size of your practice, TMA Practice Consulting can conduct an embezzlement risk review to help identify internal control policies that may expose the practice to risk for embezzlemen

Revised May 13, 2014

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