As businesses grow, their ability to effect change in their surrounding environment is typically a reflection of their expanding net worth. New roles are often created that help regulate the funds of these enterprises, and in most cases, very few individuals have the power to make budgetary decisions on behalf of the company. This also presents organizations with a potential threat, however, as fraud and embezzlement are often perpetrated by an internal source.
News 9 reported that an Oklahoma nonprofit was the victim of such a crime. Shannon Rickards, former state YWCA CFO, had unilateral access to the organization's funds and used bank cards to steal $280,000 between Oct. 2010 and Jan. 2013. The source noted, however, that after legal costs and other damages were taken into account, the nonprofit suffered a loss of nearly $400,000.
The YWCA is an association that helps house and protect in-need women. The nonprofit's goal is to provide shelter and sanctuary for victims of domestic violence, and although it has not been disbanded, the source reported that CEO Jan Peery is concerned about the organization's longevity.
"Knowing what those dollars do – they help us to provide crisis services for victims – and then to turn around and know that we've now been victimized by crime," said Peery. "It was all … quite a journey."
Criminal Defense Lawyer reported that individuals who are charged with embezzling more than $25,000 in Oklahoma often face fines of up to $10,000, 10 years of jail time and restitution of the stolen funds. Additionally, if employees steal public funds, the penalties are subject to increase.
By leveraging an AP audit strategy, decision-makers can help mitigate the possibility of these crimes before they occur.