Dental practice’s weak financial controls foster embezzlement

The former bookkeeper of an Augusta, Maine-based dental practice recently pleaded guilty to embezzling approximately $120,000 from the organization over a period of five years, according to the Kennebec Journal.

Celine Davis, who was employed by Augusta Orthodontics for more than 16 years, misappropriated the money between January 2006 and February 2011 by accepting cash payments and then deleting or voiding them in the company's computer system after providing a receipt. 

The scheme went undetected until a customer complained about an incorrect bill. Following this, another employee investigated and was able to reconstruct the computer records, the news source reports.

According to Christopher Marquet, CEO of Massachusetts-based forensic auditing firm Marquet International, embezzlement cases such as this are typically facilitated by weak or nonexistent checks and balances.

"A lot of these companies are small mom-and-pop shops and they rely completely on this woman to be honest," he told the media outlet. "If she has the motivation, access and justification, then you've got a high risk. … Sadly, this phenomenon is going on daily."

By dividing up responsibility and conducting regular recovery audits, organizations can mitigate opportunities for embezzlement, ensure accuracy and reduce the likelihood of duplicate payments and similar errors from occurring.

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