The former business manager of a Sonoma County, California, golf club was recently sentenced to one year's imprisonment after an accounts payable audit determined she had embezzled nearly $400,000, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Lidia Montano, who managed the Sonoma Golf Club between 2007 and 2010, misappropriated $392,000 by giving herself unauthorized salary increases and using company accounts to pay personal expenses – including restaurant bills, gym memberships and travel.
"Basically she would call the payroll company and give herself pay raises," said prosecutor Amy Ariyoshi, as quoted by the news source.
While Montano was vacationing in August 2010, the club's payroll company alerted its manager about the discrepancies. An internal AP audit was conducted and Montano was subsequently fired.
"I blame myself for taking my eye off the ball," said the club's general manager, Mike Kosak, as quoted by the source.
According to the media outlet, the embezzlement was perpetuated for such a long period of time because the club has just five office workers and there was an atmosphere of trust.
Experts believe small businesses to be especially susceptible to fund misappropriation for that very reason. Whatever a company's size, it's important to implement a system of checks and balances, as well as carry out regular AP audits.