When it comes to workplace theft, few forms of criminality represent such a hefty potential drain on company resources than a steady flow of inventory disappearing from your warehouse. It might start out with a few small losses here and there, raising mild alarm but getting swept aside as running the business is prioritized. However, this kind of industrial theft can escalate quickly—especially when the perpetrators think getting away with the loot is an easy mark. Employees steal $50 billion from U.S. businesses every year, and if your numbers aren’t adding up, then you’ve just become part of that statistic.
For the HR team or CFO of any enterprise blighted by warehouse losses, it can soon seem as if the problem is out of hand with no solution in sight. Catching thieves red handed can be challenging for those whose role is already demanding enough. In these instances, an industrial theft investigator offers a port in the storm. But how exactly does this specialist private investigator tackle occurrences of industrial theft? Today, let’s look at red flags associated with this problem and how a PI can help restore honesty to your back end team.
Raising the Alarm on Warehouse Theft
Long before you decide to put that industrial theft investigator on speed dial, you likely went through the experience of beginning to smell a rat, before becoming confident that something untoward was afoot. Perhaps you’re still in the middle of that transition—and if so, what are the red flags that you might look out for?
Of course, the most textbook issue arising is an awareness that your stock level inventories don’t match your sales records. But, there are more nuanced signals, too.
You might spot that sales seem to drop off on days when certain members of your team are on duty or that invoices are missing. Maybe you keep finding stock sitting near loading bays or outside exits, while rumors begin to swirl or morale takes a tumble. You might notice that certain team members are reluctant to take their accrued leave, while showcasing increasing purchasing power or nipping off for clandestine meetings during working hours. All of these indicators should raise the hairs on the back of your neck, but without proof, what can you do?
How an Industrial Theft Investigator Closes the Door On Warehouse Theft
So, the warning signs are there and you know you have to act quickly. It’s time to bring in a professional to nip this issue in the bud, and it’s a specialist industrial theft investigator that you need. There are a number of ways that this type of PI can help you—and sometimes, the mere presence of an industrial theft investigator may lead perpetrators to stop dead in their tracks. But, the goal here is to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
An industrial theft investigator will combine a number of strategies. They will begin a careful investigation of the thefts that have already occurred to illuminate the facts. This may include tactics such as surveillance, interviews, investigating individuals, and conducting digital forensics. Simultaneously, they will be able to introduce background checks and employee screening to ensure you don’t have any more nefarious actors entering your workforce. Finally, they will be able to conduct a thorough physical and procedural risk assessment of your warehouse, providing you with the opportunity to make key updates to your infrastructure, company policy, security protocols, and more. Are disappearances from your warehouse taking chunks out of your bottom line? An industrial theft investigator can put a stop to stock hemorrhaging today—so why not reach out for a no-obligation consultation and discuss the support you need. The industrial theft investigations team at Lauth Investigations International is always only a phone call or a message away.
If you think that white collar crime is something only committed by manicured suit-wearing types in office buildings, it’s time to think again. If you work in construction and you’re shaking your head in disbelief, then consider this your wakeup call. Construction embezzlement happens every day in America, and safeguarding your business against the sly intentions of fraudsters and scam artists could save it from a derailing crisis.
Joy Wilde was the trusted bookkeeper of a Californian construction company. Her boss, Greg Weimann, had no idea that Wilde had been fraudulently siphoning funds out of his business for years. By the time he realized what was going on, she’s embezzled the staggering sum of $877,000 from the company. Last year, Wilde was sentenced to 10 years in jail for her crimes. A satisfying justice, perhaps, but you can bet that recovering from such a devastating loss and the upheaval of a law suit, media coverage, may take the victim just as long.
The tough truth of this tale is that Joy Wilde serves as only one example of endemic corporate fraud—criminality that carries a global annual price tag expected to rise to $1.5 trillion by 2025. So, if white collar crime has nothing to do with the kind of collar on a neck that sits behind a desk, what exactly does the term mean? Simply put, white collar crime describes the actions of anyone in business who illegally takes money from their employer or anyone else they do business with. That means customers, clients, suppliers, or subcontractors can be the target, and crucially, so can you.
Safeguard Your Company Against Construction Embezzlement
Denoting an equally unfriendly term, embezzlement is when someone steals or misappropriates of funds placed in their trust or belonging to their employer. If you run a construction company, then you won’t have any difficulty envisioning the ample opportunity for embezzlement that this industry affords. Payment applications and invoices can be falsified, labor and material costs inflated, change orders manipulated, and the Schedule of Values used to conceal substituted savings and divert funds. When the dangers of bid fixing and collusion are added to this equation, construction companies find themselves in murky waters indeed.
This raises the obvious question: how can such companies protect themselves against the possible impacts of construction embezzlement and other forms of white collar crime? Well, safeguarding can be conducted in a number of different ways. Enlisting a corporate investigations firm to carry out comprehensive background checks and periodic corporate culture audits can help you identify foxes in the hen house before they strike, so to speak. It is our experience that there are usually red flags to be found long before an employee makes off with the spoils. For companies who find themselves having already fallen foul of an embezzler, gathering evidence and acting quickly is the best way to kick-start damage control. Our seasoned and specialist corporate investigators here at Lauth Investigations International help a diversity of companies navigate these kinds of crises every day. We can advise on how to immediately launch an impactive investigation, what other self-protective steps you can take moving forwards, and the moves that you can make in order to reclaim lost assets, bring justice to the criminal in question, and reduce your risk of liability for the fallout of their actions. Whenever the warning bell chimes for white collar crime in construction, don’t hesitate to act. Contact Lauth Investigations International today for preventative and curative assistance.
When evidence points to the unpleasant reality that someone has targeted your organization, it’s not the time to bury your head in the sand. From a cybersecurity threat to white collar crime; from fraud or extortion to a physical break-in: it’s safe to assume that the violation in question isn’t an isolated incident. You’re going to need to take immediate steps to plug leaks, remove vulnerabilities, beef up securities, and assess the damage that has been done. Crucially, it’s time to call a corporate theft investigator, and there isn’t a minute to lose. Corporate theft investigations are the first step in getting to the bottom of the problem.
The Many Faces Of Corporate Theft
Corporate theft comes in many guises, and business leaders should be mindful of all of them. The assets that bad actors might target include physical inventory, financial assets, intellectual property, and more. The actors themselves could be members of your team on any level—making the issue one of internal corporate theft—or supposedly trustworthy business partners, suppliers, or clients who have been granted just enough access to do harm. Finally, it might be an outsider with the wherewithal to bypass your security entirely—denoting external corporate theft.
Complicating matters, those doing the stealing will likely bend over backwards to cover their tracks—so when a workplace investigation is called for, you’ll want to be prepared that it might uncover a rot that has festered. The good news is that a seasoned corporate investigator will not only be able to reveal the extent of nefarious actions, but advise on the steps to take next in the name of damage control and recovery. Whether they collaborate with your HR investigator or take full control of theft-related HR investigations, you can be confident that any threat will be effectively neutralised, allowing you to pursue justice and ultimately get back to what you do best.
Hiring a Corporate Investigator
Discovering that your business has fallen prey to corporate theft can leave many executives in a tailspin. Thoughts of reputational damage, rifts with shareholders, or potential legal ramifications are certainly daunting. However, this is where the tactic of hiring a corporate investigation firm for expert assistance comes into its own.
The dedicated workplace investigator is an expert at discreetly navigating exceptionally sensitive issues of this nature, and will act swiftly to resolve the challenge at hand while maintaining utmost confidence. The corporate investigation process can take place with minimal disruption to your team and daily operations, with information shared on a strictly need-to-know basis and conclusions kept under wraps until you have a concrete plan of action in place. Of course, the corporate investigator is also well versed at collaborating with law enforcement and will ensure that your company’s actions are compliant, ethical, and legally air-tight as workplace investigations progress.
How To Prevent Corporate Theft
Undoubtedly, any business owner would rather never face the need for corporate theft investigations. So how can corporate investigation services help you lessen the risk in the first place? Well, diligent background checks on recruits and business partners is a great place to start. Gathering corporate intelligence can help you guard against non-compete violations and intellectual property theft. Meanwhile, periodic corporate culture audits can help you forge an environment where employees are far less likely to feel disgruntled enough to act against the company in the first place. Here at Lauth Investigations International, our expert corporate division offers all of the corporate investigation examples that you may require—making hiring a corporate investigator for your company’s unique needs easy and simple to do. With the right ally in your corner, navigating corporate theft doesn’t need to be daunting. As ominous as such an occurrence may be, you can rest easy that the right actions are being taken on your behalf. If you’re ready to show active or potential perpetrators that yours is not the business to mess with, we’re ready to stand by your side. Contact the team to get started today.
Corporate entities and organizations the world over go to great lengths to protect their intellectual property and self-built foundations of knowledge. In this vein, contracts that protect against non-compete violations allow employers to invest in developing the skill set of their employees without fear that they will turn around and take a pay-off from a competitor, or even set up shop offering the exact same service up the street.
The repercussions when a non-compete contract is breached can be costly and complex to navigate. This means that taking every step to mitigate violations is prudent planning. With that in mind, read on to discover Lauth Investigation’s top tips for minimizing the risk of non-compete violations—and what to do if you suspect something underhand is already afoot.
Keeping Non-Compete Contracts up to Date
Laws change, roles change, and the needs of any given business will inevitably change too. Ensuring that non-competes remain practical and legally applicable can help you avoid future vulnerability. Because of the unique nature of each organization’s operation and each employees role, non-competes must be tailor made.
Factors such as locational jurisdictions, business or asset acquisitions, and what is considered an industry-specific reasonable duration of contract must all be taken into account. In contrast, a cookie-cutter approach to non-compete contracts can be risky, as any strategic holes may disincline the courts from upholding the contract in question. Also keep in mind that—when updating non-competes for current employees—it is vital to ensure a consideration is provided in return for their renewed agreement.
Ensuring Security Is Locked Down
Even with the most air-tight non-compete agreements in place, the risk always remains that an employee will decide that breaching their contract is worth the consequences. Temptation to accept a bribe in return for providing access to computer systems, documents, or designs is always a possibility. One of the ways in which companies can reduce this risk is by making security a top priority. Having electronic and on-site security provisions regularly reviewed—and making employees aware of both measures in place and their own responsibility—can be a reminder that they risk getting caught in the act when temptation strikes.
Staying on Top of Corporate Culture
A thriving corporate culture not only means satisfied employees and larger profits, but also enhanced company loyalty. In contrast, when toxic corporate culture is allowed to fester, organizations run the risk of their employees feeling far more inclined to turn on the hand that feeds them. Diligently monitoring the health of workplace culture offers multi-faceted protection. If tackling corporate culture for the first time, a Corporate Culture Audit can be a great place to start.
Being Proactive When Employment Ends
When an employee quits or is terminated, an exit interview provides the perfect opportunity for a non-compete refresher. Reminding of ongoing legal obligations can ensure that former employees are clear on the legal repercussions if they choose to breach their contract. It also provides an opportunity for them to disclose their intention to work for a competitive company—the omission of which may impact their credibility if a non-compete violation occurs in the future.
Reaching Out to a Competitive Employer
When a former employee does go to work for a competitor, the prior employer may request their consent to inform the new employer of the standing non-compete contract. Equally, if suspicion is growing, the prior employer may decide to reach out independently to ensure that the competitive business is aware that legal obligations are in play. In such instances, swift action can minimize damage.
Safeguarding Client Relationships
When valuable clients are involved and concerns exist that a former employee may not have positive intentions, proactive protection of customer relationships can be vital. Informing customers that the former employee in question is no longer working for the company and immediately connecting them with new representatives can reduce the risk of client theft and non-compete violations.
When You Suspect a Non-Compete Violation
When it comes to non-compete violations, time is usually of the essence. Swift action can effectively minimize both financial and reputational losses, while reducing the potential complexity of litigation. When suspicion arises, a skilled private investigator can be an ultimate ally—launching diligent corporate investigations, carrying out surveillance, and information gathering—as they build a case that will allow you to take immediate action. If a possible non-compete violation is on your radar or you require help in assessing your current level of risk, contact Lauth Investigations for immediate assistance.
A private investigator can identify employee fraud and thief in your workforce, eliminating future threats while maintaining objectivity.
Despite the ability of a business to flourish in any economy, every company is still vulnerable to the possibility of employee theft or fraud. Like a frog in a boiling pot, sometimes companies can be taken by surprise when the theft has gradually grown over a period of time, and no one is the wiser until the business takes an unexpected financial hit. Companies can protect themselves from these frauds with costly in-house investigations into the crime, but a private investigator can go a long way towards identifying all perpetrators, no matter how high up the chain of command it goes.
Recent statistics from several government agencies who supervise finances and labor estimate theft committed annually by employees reaches an excess of $50 billion. Even an isolated incident can blanket a company in a crisis and leave them clawing out of the depths of bankruptcy. It starts with small things, such as taking office supplies for personal use. When this action goes unchecked, the employee might begin taking from petty cash without authorization. The level of the theft will always ratchet up the longer the thief goes undetected.
When an investigator attempts to identify employee fraud is knowing what to look for. Elliot Rysenbry of Trustify says there are six warning signs of employee theft for which Human Resources should be vigilant.
Behaviors of people who might be very dedicated to their jobs are also characteristic of people who might be stealing from your business. People who are always working long hours and never take a vacation. This “dedication” is a front for superiors. People who are stealing via their position do not want to be absent from the workplace for fear a temporary replacement might notice inconsistencies that could indicate fraud.
Hyper-vigilance of connections
When an employee has a close personal connection/relationship with any vendor or associated financial institution, it’s usually not cause for concern of impropriety. However, hyper-vigilance or strong protection of those relationships, it’s possible there’s something in the business arrangement for this employee. One of the most common names for this kind of fraudulent arrangement is “kickbacks” or getting a cut of the profits vendors or financial institutions receive from a thieving employee.
This is one of the most common types of theft committed in the workplace. Line items on expense reports are either inflated or fabricated entirely in order to pad the thief’s pocket.
Payroll knows what individual employees make week to week, so when there are unexplained extravagences in an employee’s life, such as a flashy new car, it’s important HR keep an eye on said employee.
Frequent small transactions
Taking from petty cash in small amounts can add up quickly, and is often a sign of more serious, larger-scale fraud being committed within the company.
Employees who feel as though they are underpaid or undervalued at their company are also plausible perpetrators of theft. Whether as a motive or a rationalization, they feel as if what they stole was deserved payment.
While theft can be an extremely toxic element in any work environment, one of the ways to exacerbate it is by conducting a poor internal investigation. Human Resource employees are unsung heroes of companies and businesses, as they are one of the crucial gatekeepers with control over the quality of employees. Not only are they very busy individuals, but they might not be the most objective persons to conduct an internal investigation.
Sometimes a lack of experience with investigations will cause a member of HR to make false or unprepared accusations about the guilt of a particular employee. If this employee is unimpeachable, the company can open itself up to lawsuits and bad press. Even if HR is not conducting the investigation, most employees are not trained investigators and might conduct an inquiry in an illegal manner that could also open the business up to litigation. Sometimes a pay cut for an employee suspected of stealing might seem like a quick and quiet way to resolve these issues, but legal counsel should always be consulted before making these decisions. By the same token, hasty termination of these employees to avoid a messy investigation should always involve the opinion of a legal expert—all in the name of protecting the country from plausible legal trouble.
The simple answer to avoiding all of the aforementioned ways to inflame an internal theft investigation is to retain the services of a private investigator. Private investigators can save companies from themselves in terms of opening themselves up to litigation or bad press. Private investigators have more skill and experience in these areas preventing investigations from blowing up in a negative manner. They are independent contractors, therefore, do not have a dog in the race when it comes to identifying the culprit of the theft. Their objectivity will be crucial, especially if the theft within the company goes all the way to the executive level. Because of their authority over employees, CEOs of companies might often get a soft front from HR or other investigative bodies within the business. Private investigators—being unknown to other employees in the business—can also conduct undercover operations to yield truthful and unbiased results. The private investigator, along with business counsel, can also advise Human Resource departments how to proceed once the culprit has been identified. Whatever the specific needs of a company, always consider hiring a private investigator to conduct internal investigations in order to protect and enhance the longevity of your business.
Identify employee fraud and theft today with Lauth Investigations International. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at our website for a free quote.
Employees are the fuel that drive success in a company, but what happens when employee theft stalls the corporate engine?
Corporate Theft | The Case
Employees are the fuel that drive success in a company, but what happens when employee theft stalls the corporate engine?
Lauth Investigations International was called upon to investigate suspicions of theft within a local oil manufacturer. An equipment manager had voiced concerns about unusual gas spillage near the valves where employees filled the tanks for distribution. The manger told their superiors they believed an employee had been siphoning off gas from the refinery and had been selling it out of his home.
Lauth Investigators first had to determine if there were environmental factors that were effecting the valves.
Lauth Investigators first had to determine if there were environmental factors that were effecting the valves. Using risk-management criteria, it was determined that there were no leaks in the valves and they were in perfect working order. Next, investigators had to determine if human error might have been responsible for the spillage. Procedure for filling gas tanks involved the use of a hose which would prevent spillage. Undercover, investigators entered the refinery during operation hours to observe employees filling tanks. After surveilling daily operations, it was determined the alleged theft must be taking place outside of operation hours. Investigators placed hidden cameras trained on the target tanks in hopes of observing the theft. Footage from the hidden surveillance cameras revealed that an employee was, in fact, using an improper technique to fill cannisters with gas from the targeted tanks. The investigator visited the Subject’s residence and identified the same gas cannisters on the Subject’s property.
Lauth prepared a report indicating that the Subject identified filling gas from the cannisters was the suspected employee, as well as the gas cannisters observed at the Subject’s home.
The report contained the conclusion that the Subject was siphoning gas and transporting it back to their residence to sell privately. At this stage of the investigation, the client did not wish to go further with the investigation in order to establish a link between the improperly filled cannisters and the cannisters at the Subject’s home. Lauth’s recommended solution was the termination of the employee.