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Let us say that an embezzlement investigation is a hot topic in the company rumor mill. Funds have gone missing, and management is reportedly poised to announce the impending questioning of employees.

That would seem to point to you and possibly your coworkers in the accounting department. What should you do?

A little history

According to 2012 study findings from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, about 60% of the corporate fraud that occurs annually throughout the world takes place here in the U.S. In fact, embezzlement, or asset misappropriation, comprises almost 90% of all white-collar crimes. In considering the extent of such crimes, in 2011, the FBI pursued 726 cases of corporate fraud, an increase of 37% over cases on the books in 2007.

Next steps

An embezzlement investigation takes time; on average, about 18 months. However, depending on the complexity of the situation, the investigation could take years. Professionals will come in and collect pertinent company documents and related information along with bank statements and tax records. Your management team may instruct employees to produce certain records related to the investigation and warn everybody to not delete any electronic information or shred any documents that could connect to the embezzlement scheme in any way.

Seeking an advocate

If management personnel in your company are about to begin internal employee questioning, an active federal investigation cannot be far behind. An employment crime like embezzlement is very serious. If you believe you are a target, do not wait to seek legal counsel. If federal agents want to question you, it would be to your advantage to have an attorney by your side. Once you learn that an investigation into employment fraud is imminent, the time is right to begin preparing your defense. Your future, your career and your freedom are at stake, and you will want the comfort and confidence that comes with experienced representation.