Matters Of Trust

On The Take

Ever wonder what goes through an embezzler's mind? In this exclusive disclosure, one ex-embezzler reveals why she stole from a former employer:

"The funny thing about it was I had never done anything like this before. I'd seen other people steal while I was working at other places and thought, `No, this isn't right.' I once managed a video store for two years for only $4.25 an hour--and I never took anything. I was so honest.

"So what happened? I was working as a sales clerk at a retail store in Phoenix, Arizona. I didn't know anybody was stealing from the register until one day somebody made a comment like `Oh, I've given myself a raise.' I said, `What are you talking about?' Turns out, everybody was stealing.

"What set me off, though, was when a new computer system failed to record free memberships that we were authorized to give to customers. I got a call from the accountant saying I was $50 short--and that money was docked from my paycheck. The manager eventually agreed there was a computer glitch--but I never got my money back.

"Anyway, one day a customer came in, bought a whole bunch of stuff, handed me a $50 bill and said he didn't need a receipt. He walked away, and I'm holding the cash, and all of a sudden the devil said `You know what? Here's your $50.' And I stuck it in my pocket and voided the sale.

"I eventually stole more than $3,000. What prompted me to do it was all the broken promises. I didn't get a raise I'd been promised. The health insurance we were supposed to get never materialized. Even a promotion I'd received was taken back after I had to spend a month in the hospital.

"I was never caught. I just got fed up with the way things were. The way I see it, the owner was robbing the employees. No matter what he promised, he never, ever delivered. I'm glad it's over."

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This article was originally published in the March 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Matters Of Trust.

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