It’s hard to believe that the use of a little rubber stamp would cost a company over $ 600,000. Bonnie Johnson, the ex-office manager for North County Smokehouse has pleaded guilty to embezzling just over that amount from New Hampshire’s, North County Smokehouse.
The owner of the 101-year-old-business, Mark Satzow, discovered the fraud scam while Johnson was on vacation, Satzow discover the trusted, 21 year employee of the company had made an unauthorized charge on the company’s credit card. After further investigation it was found that she had, over the last seven years embezzled more than $ 600,000 by writing checks made out to herself. Johnson was an authorized signatory on the business checking account along with Satzow, and although the account required both signatures on a check Johnson would use a rubber stamp to affix Satzow's. Johnson also charged unauthorized purchases to the company credit card.
The embezzlement started out small, as they usually do, with Johnson stealing a reported $ 16,000 in 2005 the crime then escalated as it went unnoticed to the point where Johnson had stolen $124,000 in 2012.
This type of fraud is called an "authorized maker" scheme and is one of the hardest to defend against; as the fraudster has authority to sign on the checking account. Many believe that requiring two signatures on a check is an effective internal control; however, this is exactly as it states - an internal control - and must be monitored internally. Your bank will not monitor this requirement or reject checks that do not have two signatures on them. In fact, I've seen checks clear a bank with no signature affixed at all! So if the person responsible for monitoring and reconciling your banking transactions also has authority to sign checks; you're a prime target for this type of fraud.
Pages 24 -33 of book one, in my three book series, provides direct guidance in detecting and preventing this type of scheme.
Johnson reportedly used some of the embezzled money for elaborate vacations, Harley Davidson motorcycles, jewelry and snowmobiles.
Johnson plead guilty to wire fraud on October 10th and was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison On October 27, 2013.