Why are more females founded guilty of embezzlement than guys?

The mean quantity embezzled by females was $221,000 from 2007 to 2017, approximately the exact same quantity as guys, according to research study by David Weber, a Salisbury University teacher. But guys tended to take bigger quantities in one fell swoop, while females took in smaller sized quantities more often. 

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Few lenders recognize with the name Catherine Kissick, a previous executive at Colonial Bank who was sentenced to 8 years in jail for her function in a $2.9 billion scams plan that reduced the home mortgage loan provider Taylor, Bean & Whitaker in 2009. 

Even less have actually become aware of Janice Weston, a senior vice president and compliance officer at the stopped working Washington Federal Bank for Savings in Chicago, who pleaded guilty this month to conspiring with 15 other high-ranking staff members to an embezzlement plan that caused the bank’s failure, according to federal district attorneys. 

Yet these female lenders become part of a bigger pattern in which females are most likely to be founded guilty of one particular classification of monetary criminal activity — embezzlement — than guys, according to brand-new research study. The research study is groundbreaking since it is based upon U.S. Sentencing Commission conviction records from all 94 U.S. federal District Courts. 

Women were the target of 55.4% of embezzlement convictions from 2007 to 2017, compared to 44.6% for guys, according to the research study by David Weber, teacher of the practice of forensic accounting at the Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University. 

In 2012 alone, females comprised 60.5% of convictions. His research study is the very first massive research study of embezzlement to analyze the gender, education and age of criminals.

“The key element in all these crimes is opportunity,” stated Weber, a previous enforcement authorities at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. “What makes embezzlement unique is that by virtue of its definition, it takes place in the workplace and is committed by insiders.”

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The research study supplies insights into theft in the office and which staff members are most likely to be prosecuted for taking from a business or its clients. The dominating research study on embezzlement was based, in part, on Yale University research studies from the 1970s and 1980s that did not determine females as substantial white-collar wrongdoers.  

“It was a shocking finding considering that prior research put women convictions at only 15%,” Weber stated. “One reason the numbers are higher today is because women have pierced the glass ceiling and plainly have more opportunity in the workplace today than they did in the past.”

The research study both at the same time supports and overthrows concepts about the so-called “fraud triangle,” a theory from the 1950s that has actually held sway in the field of criminology and forensic accounting for years. The research study likewise raises concerns about the fairness of which sort of white-collar cases get focused on and who gets charged.

“There’s a whole lot of white-collar crime and very little of it gets prosecuted,” stated June Carbone, a law teacher at the University of Minnesota Law School. “What’s different about embezzlement is it’s low-hanging fruit. Typically you’ll have a bank self-report the embezzlement that is easy to prove and a jury gets it.” 

The literature on why females are most likely to be prosecuted for white-collar criminal offenses and particularly for embezzlement is a complicated one, Carbone stated. 

In the past, scientists argued that females implicated of embezzling were generally low-level bank tellers, accountants or workplace supervisors. They were frequently described as “criminals of the middle class.” 

But Weber’s research study discovered that the mean quantity embezzled by females was $221,000, approximately the exact same quantity as guys. The distinction is that guys tended to take bigger quantities in one fell swoop,  while females took less in worth however took part in criminal activity more often. 

The research study likewise discovered that a bulk of females founded guilty of embezzlement throughout the duration studied had some college education, a college degree or graduate work, more changing prior presumptions that such criminal offenses were devoted by lower-level employees. Bank tellers generally hold in between $20,000 to $30,000 in money in their drawers, so taking big amounts is challenging.

“In the past they called this a crime of the middle class, but this can’t be a crime of the middle class because the median amount stolen is so much higher,” Weber stated. “These crimes are being committed by women in the C-suite or just below it, so this is clearly officers and directors.” 

Much of the previous research study on embezzlement is based upon the theories of Edwin Sutherland, long thought about the dad of criminology, who composed a critical book, “Principles of Criminology,” and created the term “white-collar crime” in 1939. His trainee, Donald Cressey, a sociologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, composed “Other People’s Money,” a 1953 research study on embezzlement that stemmed the so-called scams triangle principle. That theory, still in usage today, declares that 3 aspects need to exist for embezzlement to take place: monetary pressure, chance and a justification to take. 

Bill Black, an associate teacher of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, called the scams triangle “kind of silly,” mainly since it came out of the 1940s and was based mainly on interviews with females founded guilty of embezzlement, who had what at that time was called “an unshareable financial need.” 

“Women convicted of embezzlement had just what you’d expect: a really embarrassing problem in the family where they needed money,” Black stated. “This was in the late 1940s and almost always it was the husband or the boyfriend who caused the financial crisis, and the women couldn’t go to their boss and say their husband was an alcoholic or a drug addict or a gambling addict.”

Embezzlement is the only classification of monetary criminal offenses in which females in federal jail outnumber guys.

“Back in the ’40s, it was two-thirds women, but now it’s about 53%,” Black stated. “We live in a slightly less-sexist era.” 

The theory of the scams triangle is among the couple of locations of criminology that has actually made it into the main accounting literature and is still utilized today in training products put out by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Jason Zirkle, training director at the ACFE, an Austin, Texas, company that licenses scams inspectors stated the theory has benefit.

“Who has the opportunity to commit the fraud? It’s the people that handle the money: the accountants, the auditors, the accounts payable clerk, the accounts receivable clerks,” Zirkle stated. “Those tend to be dominated by females versus males. The roles that typically have their hands on money are the ones who have more opportunity to commit fraud.”

That guys tend to take bigger quantities of cash at a time can likewise be described quickly, Zirkle stated, considering that guys extremely hold senior positions at a lot of business compared to females. 

Embezzlement is a unique type of white-collar criminal activity since it includes the deceitful “taking of personal property” by somebody lawfully delegated to safeguard it, stated Weber, who was associated with the examination of the Taylor, Bean & Whitaker case at the OCC and FDIC.

He explained Kissick, the executive at Colonial Bank, as an example of how females take for significantly various factors than guys. 

“Women steal more frequently for necessity,” he stated. “Kissick felt that she would be held responsible if the loan [to Taylor, Bean & Whitaker] was charged off and she was trying to conceal her own lack of performance as an officer and director. And that’s different from men. She’s not stealing for an affair or because she has an addiction.”

Another significant takeaway from the research study is that the variety of prosecutions dropped greatly after the monetary crisis although the mean loss quantity from embezzlement tripled in the duration studied. The Obama administration dealt with substantial criticism for stopping working to prosecute big-bank executives after the 2008 home mortgage crisis, which pattern continued in the Trump administration. Weber’s research study is broadly suitable with those findings. 

“White- collar prosecutions are complicated and difficult to investigate, and we know they don’t prosecute the elite white-collar criminals,” stated Carbone, who has a book coming out on females and financial justice. 

Weber’s research study into embezzlement was triggered by his own experience at federal regulative companies, where he saw females being prosecuted in higher numbers. 

“I put many, many female CEOs and bank presidents in federal prison,” he stated. “I set out to prove the conventional wisdom and prior research was wrong.”

Prosecutors likewise require to have a great factor to examine a white-collar criminal activity offered the remarkable dedication of resources. Women are most likely to be prosecuted for misbehavior either in retaliation for grumbling to management or since their managers are under pressure from federal regulators to show they’re taking actions to avoid internal monetary misbehavior.

Bank executives, she stated, frequently will “sacrifice a person they don’t like or they don’t need, and that’s more likely to be a woman. They pick the person who is most expendable or disliked, and women are more likely to be punished if they do anything shady.” 


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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