The former bookkeeper for a Newport Beach, California-based architectural firm was recently sentenced to two years in prison after an accounts payable audit revealed she had embezzled more than $150,000 from the company.
According to the Newport Beach Patch, Suzanne Baumann was employed by Scheurer Architect from 1996 until her financial mismanagement was discovered last year. Over that time period, she misappropriated more than $115,000 by using company credit cards to fund unauthorized expenses related to travel, online shopping, and concerts. The remainder of the funds were stolen from the company's bank account to pay down expenses accrued on Baumann's personal credit card.
The company first became aware of the embezzlement when one of Baumann's colleagues noticed a missing check she had written to herself in May 2010. An extensive corporate AP audit followed, which revealed the full extent of the scheme, resulting in Baumann's subsequent arrest last December.
Companies can minimize the effects of both embezzlement and good faith accounting mistakes by implementing a system of regular AP audits. This will help to identify inconsistencies in a more prompt manner, thereby reducing their financial impact.