Embezzlement News #58 — June 2017

 

Prosperident’s Dental Embezzlement News
Issue #58 — June 2017
Read our CEO’s article in DentalTown Magazine
Did you ever wonder how an embezzler can be fired in one office and quickly get hired somewhere else?
David Harris discusses his conversations with one “serial embezzler” in the most recent edition of DentalTown Magazine. It is definitely an interesting read.
In This Issue:
    • Our CEO in Dental Town
    • Guest Article –Laura Hatch
    • Tony Ulbrandt, CFE

 

  • Upcoming Speaking Dates
  • A note from our CEO
Congratulations!

We would like to congratulate Prosperident Senior Examiner Tony Ulbrandt on the completion of his Certified Fraud Examiner designation. Tony’s specialty is assisting owners of multi-office practices with improving their systems. Way to go, Tony!
Tired of the same boring speakers?
We can help!
With attention-grabbing presentation titles like “The Walletectomy” and “How To Steal From A Dentist“, we are sure to give your audience a different and engaging experience.
Here are some of the places we will be speaking soon:
Jul 21 Patterson Dental, Oklahoma City OK
Aug 25 Kentucky Dental Association, French Lick IN
Sep 14-15 Dentsply Sirona World, Las Vegas NV
Sep 22 Patterson Dental, Dallas TX
Oct 20-21 Thompson Okanagan Dental Society, Kelowna BC
Nov 3 Innovative Study Group of Arizona
Nov 10 Carestream Global Oral Health Summit, Orlando FL
Nov 14 Fresno Madera Dental Society, Fresno CA
Nov 15 Vancouver Study Club, Vancouver BC
Dec 7-8 Patterson Dental, Nashville, TN
 
To book us for your meeting or study club, click HERE or call us at 888-398-2327.
Did you miss a previous newsletter? We archive them here.
Guest Article — Laura Hatch
Yay! Our most popular guest columnist, Laura Hatch, is back. For those of you who don’t know Laura, she is the driving force behind Front Office Rocks, a company that provides awesome online front-office training. Laura’s guest articles are consistently among our most read.
 
5 Ways to Make Hiring (Almost) Painless
Firing and hiring are probably the least favorite parts of the job for most dentists and office managers. In fact, some dentists dread this process so much that they hold onto employees way too long to avoid firing someone. There are many reasons for this. Not only is it unpleasant to have to fire an employee; it also requires another equally dreaded process: trying to find someone new to replace them. I am here to tell you that as hard as hiring might seem, it is much better to replace an employee who is not working out with a new (and hopefully better) employee than to continue struggling with that employee who is holding back your office and your potential.
Hiring does not have to be hard or scary if you know what you are doing. The best thing to do is to prepare yourself for the process and start it the right way to make it as successful as possible.
 
Visit Front Office Rocks to learn for more information or call 1-800-914-3595.
A Note From Our CEO
This month’s guest columnist Laura Hatch nailed it in her article on hiring when she says that dentists HATE the process of hiring staff.
Let’s face it — hiring is a minefield. You either have too few qualified applicants or too many. In addition to the challenge of finding a single person with both the right skills and the personality you are seeking, hiring is subject to much governmental regulation. Often you are operating under considerable time pressure to fill an essential position.
I think it is also safe to say that very few dentists chose their profession based on a burning desire to own a small business. For most, being the CEO is the curse that accompanies the privilege of restoring and enhancing smiles.
Skepticism when hiring is something that does not come naturally to most dentists.
There are clear dangers out there — 25% of US adults have criminal records, and credible studies estimate that more than 50% of resumes contain some level of falsehood. And yet when I ask audiences of dentists whether they have done something as basic as checking photo identification last time they hired very few have done so, and the thought that an applicant might be using a false identity never crossed their minds.
It is no wonder that about a quarter of our caseload involves “serial embezzlers”. These people have stolen before, and have managed to hide this fact from subsequent employers. The DentalTown article highlighted earlier in this newsletter deals with one such serial embezzler who has worked in over a dozen practices.
There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself better from these people. Click HERE for some good ideas on screening applicants.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
David Harris CPA, CMA, MBA, CFE, CFF
Chief Executive Officer
Prosperident — the world’s largest dental embezzlement investigation firm
Visit our website — www.dentalembezzlement.com

 

Why Dentists Hire Badly

By David Harris

Our June 2017 Newsletter’s guest columnist Laura Hatch nailed it in her article on hiring when she says that dentists HATE the process of hiring staff.  (See Laura’s article HERE.)

Let’s face it — hiring is a minefield:
  • You either have too few qualified applicants or too many.
  • In addition to the challenge of finding a single person with both the right skills and the personality you are seeking, hiring is subject to much governmental regulation.
  • Often you are operating under considerable time pressure to fill an essential position.
I think it is also safe to say that very few dentists chose their profession based on a burning desire to own a small business.  For most, being the CEO is the curse that accompanies the privilege of restoring and enhancing smiles.
Skepticism when hiring is something that does not come naturally to most dentists.
There are clear dangers out there — 25% of US adults have criminal records, and credible studies estimate that more than 50% of resumes contain some level of falsehood.  And yet when I ask audiences of dentists whether they have done something as basic as checking photo identification last time they hired very few have done so, and the thought that an applicant might be using a false identity never crossed their minds.
It is no wonder that about a quarter of our caseload involves “serial embezzlers”.  These people have stolen before, and have managed to hide this fact from subsequent employers.  This DentalTown article deals with one such serial embezzler who has worked in over a dozen practices.
There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself better from these people. Click HERE for some good ideas on screening applicants.

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Guest Article — Laura Hatch

5 Ways to Make Hiring (Almost) Painless

Firing and hiring are probably the least favorite parts of the job for most dentists and office managers. In fact, some dentists dread this process so much that they hold onto employees way too long in order to avoid firing someone. There are many reasons for this. Not only is it unpleasant to have to fire an employee, it also requires another equally dreaded process: trying to find someone new to replace them. I am here to tell you that as hard as hiring might seem, it is much better to replace an employee who is not working out with a new (and hopefully better) employee than to continue struggling with that employee who is holding back your office and your
potential.

Hiring does not have to be hard or scary, if you know what you are doing. The best thing to do is to prepare yourself for the process and start it the right way to make it as successful as possible. Here are five things you should do to set yourself up for success in finding your next “rock star.”

1) Get yourself in the right mindset. I know that this might sound cliché, but if you decide that the hiring process will suck, then guess what—it will suck. If you tell yourself that there are no good candidates available, then I bet you that you won’t find a good candidate. Many times our attitude causes the outcome we are expecting, so my suggestion is to take on a positive attitude. Decide that you are going to find a great candidate and you will have a lot more success. Think about one of your best employees on your team right
now—aren’t you glad you found and hired them? If the process worked well for hiring that employee, then it can work well again for the person you need to hire now. Start thinking that your next amazing employee is out there and you just have to find them!

2) Determine specifically what you need and want on your team. Take a step back and look at the team you have currently. What skills do they have that are great? What skills or personality traits are you lacking? What things would you benefit from adding to your team? Maybe you have great staff overall, but not one person who is really good at talking about money. Or maybe you have a lot of introverts, and you could use someone that is outgoing and bubbly. Take some time to see what you would like to add to your team that would help your office and team be well-rounded. Many dentists hire based on a number of years of experience of dental, but specific dental experience really does not matter as much as other qualities. With the right personality and work ethic, you can teach them the rest.

3) Create a hiring checklist. Once you have determined the traits, skills, personality type, and anything else that you would like to have join your team, write it down. Keep that list for when you are interviewing candidates, and refer to it regularly. Many times, we tend to forget what we initially were looking for so that when we meet a candidate, we start to think “she or he is good enough” or “they are close to what I was thinking I wanted.” By having a list you can refer to, you can remind yourself what you initially
wanted and really determine how well this candidate meets the requirements on that list.

4) Don’t wait until you are in pain. You might have the intention of hiring someone soon, but things happen, you get busy, your office starts to cope without a new hire. Next thing you know, you are in desperate need of help and time is of the essence. Suddenly you are hiring in urgency mode, and you can’t afford to be picky and wait for the right candidate. If you do this, then you end up hiring a round peg to go into a square hole, which results in turnover. Ultimately, planning ahead about hiring before you get desperate will not only let you take the time to find the right candidate, it will also lower the turnover rate in your office.

5) Write an interesting and intriguing advertisement. When you are ready to put your advertisement out, make sure it is something that people want to respond to and submit their resume. If you write an ad that is boring and has too many requirements, guess what you will get? First of all, you will be limiting the number of candidates by making the requirements too strict. You will also attract boring candidates that aren’t actually excited about working in YOUR office– they are just submitting a resume because they are looking for any opening and don’t have a better opportunity at the time. You want to write an ad that is going to attract great people who are excited
when they read the opportunity. You want to have an ad that attracts people who are currently employed because your job sounds way better than the job that they are in now—instead of attracting unemployed people who will take anything that comes along.

To sum up my advice: don’t be afraid of hiring. You will find your next great employee, but you have to understand that it might take a little work and some patience. Like some of the best things in life, hiring good employees requires work, but it is so worth it.

Not sure what needs to happen when hiring? Visit Front Office Rocks to learn for more information or call us at 1-800-914-3595.

front-office-rocks-logo

See Laura’s video introduction to David Harris here — Laura Hatch video for David Harris Feb 2017

Ballantyne NC dentist charged with embezzlement, calls it a business dispute

A South Charlotte dentist is scheduled to appear in Mecklenburg County Criminal District Court on Monday on an embezzlement charge.

Dr. Steven Ghim is charged with felony embezzlement of more than $100,000, court records show. The offense date is listed in court records as Feb. 5, 2011.

WSOC-TV reported Friday that Ghim is accused of embezzling $124,000 from his Blakeney practice for about 11 months between 2011 and 2012.

Content retrieved from: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/crime/article150266437.html#storylink=cpy

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Judge calls Michigan woman’s 2nd embezzling conviction ‘shocking’ and ‘astounding’

Editor’s note — as you may know, we normally confine ourselves to investigating dental office embezzlement.  However, we do provide reporting on significant embezzlements in medical offices because the methodologies employed have considerable commonality.

GRAND RAPIDS — A Grand Rapids woman who still owes restitution for a 2004 embezzlement conviction is heading to prison for embezzling more than $181,000 from a prominent cosmetic surgery office – an offense a judge called “shocking’’ and “astounding.’’

Two embezzlement convictions in the span of 13 years necessitates that 48-year-old Rebecca Sue Barrera spend time locked up, Kent County Circuit Court Judge Donald A. Johnston said Tuesday, May 2. Losses from both crimes top $311,000.

“This embezzlement situation is shocking,’’ Johnston said. “It would be shocking if you had one conviction for this sort of thing, but to have a conviction for a substantial embezzlement and then go out and commit another substantial embezzlement is astounding.’’

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Content retrieved from: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/05/03/two-embezzling-convictions/101250350/

Ex-worker at Pittsburgh medical practice admits embezzling $800K-plus

Editor’s note — as you may know, we normally confine ourselves to investigating dental office embezzlement.  However, we do provide reporting on significant embezzlements in medical offices because the methodologies employed have considerable commonality.


A former office manager of Pittsburgh Ear Nose and Throat Associates admitted Friday that she embezzled more than $800,000 from the medical practice over five years.

Regina Lewis, 47, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon to a count of embezzlement in connection with health care.

Judge Bissoon will sentence her in August.

Ms. Lewis and her lawyer, Ryan Tutera, declined to comment as they left the courtroom.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Melucci said Ms. Lewis, who lives in the borough of Liberty outside McKeesport, managed the practice’s six locations from its Liberty Avenue office in Bloomfield and was responsible for paying bills, depositing checks and other financial oversight.

He said that from 2011 to 2016, she deposited company checks into her own PNC Bank account and made purchases for herself using the business’ credit card. She also wrote checks to herself drawn from the company’s pension fund.

Mr. Melucci said she used the money to make personal purchases from StubHub, Ticketmaster, Giant Eagle, Kohl’s and other businesses. Unlike many large-scale embezzlers, she apparently did not use the money for any big-ticket purchases such as cars or real estate.

Asked by the judge whether she agreed with the prosecutor’s recitation of her crimes, Ms. Lewis said yes.

The estimated loss is $818,000, for which Ms. Lewis will likely be ordered to pay restitution from any future earnings.

The medical practice discovered the missing money last year and contacted the FBI, which handled the case.

Ms. Lewis was charged by complaint on March 14 and indicated three days later that she would plead.

She remains free on a $10,000 bond pending sentencing.

No one from the medical practice returned messages Friday. Allegheny Health Network, which acquired the business in 2014, had no comment.


Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com


Content retrieved from: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2017/05/12/Pittsburgh-Ear-Nose-Throat-embezzle-Regina-Lewis/stories/201705120200

Embezzlement News #57 — May 2017

 

Prosperident’s Dental Embezzlement News
Issue #57 — May 2017
Our CEO Interviewed
One of our CEO’s favorite podcasts is one he did last year with Drs. Alan Mead and Jason Lipscomb, the “Dental Hacks” guys.
Take a listen HERE
In This Issue:
    • Our CEO Interviewed
    • Guest Article –Eric Cohen
    • The “Hall of Shame”

 

  • Upcoming Speaking Dates
  • A note from our CEO
Prosperident Hall of Shame

We have recently updated our Hall of Shame so that it profiles over 450 embezzlers. Are any of them working in your office?
Empty Seats at Your Event?
We can help!
With attention-grabbing presentation titles like “The Walletectomy” and “How To Steal From A Dentist“, we are sure to give your audience a different and engaging experience.
Here are some of the places we will be speaking soon:
May 4 Texas Dental Meeting, San Antonio TX
May 4 Atlantic Canada Seattle Study Club, Halifax NS
May 10 Tax Matters For Dentists, Toronto ON
May 12 Tax Matters For Dentists, Ottawa ON
May 16 University of the West Indies, Mona Jamaica
May 18 Endo Inc. Study Club, Danvers MA
May 25 Patterson Dental, Nashville TN
Jul 20 Orthodontic Specialists of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City OK
Aug 25 Kentucky Dental Association, French Lick IN
Sep 14-15 Dentsply Sirona World, Las Vegas NV
Sep 22 Patterson Dental, Dallas TX
Oct 20 Thompson Okanagan Dental Society, Kelowna BC
Nov 3 Innovative Study Group of Arizona
Nov 14 Fresno Madera Dental Society, Fresno CA
 
To book us for your meeting or study club, click HERE or call us at 888-398-2327.
Did you miss a previous newsletter? We archive them here.
Guest Article –Eric Cohen
Editor’s note –for most dentists, accepting credit card payments is an expensive necessity. Trying to lower the cost is a confusing and frustrating exercise. So it is a huge relief when someone can do it for you.

Add 5% To Your Income — Stop The Money Siphon

By Eric Cohen
 
The system that allows you to collect money from your patients can cost you a lot more money than it should.
There are hidden costs that reduce your bottom line without you realizing it! You know that running a practice costs money. You have all the typical expenses: rent, employee salaries and benefits, insurance, marketing, equipment, etc. Accepting credit cards costs you money also. Chances are, this revenue collection system costs you significantly more money than it needs to, acting as a “silent siphon” that slowly takes money out of your practice.
 
There are ways to reduce this cost and optimize the fees that you pay WITHOUT switching providers. Unfortunately, the credit card industry has made it impossible to understand exactly what it is you are paying for.
 
Want to learn more? You can contact Merchant Advocate at www.merchantadvocate.com or by phone at 720-526-5318.
A Note From Our CEO
Regular readers know how I like to use this space to discuss situations I encounter that may have broader relevance. This month I am going to discuss “rules”.
Many dentists, as well as the consultants who advise them, believe that rules will protect them from embezzlement. I’ve seen things like using “for deposit only” stamps for checks, having triplicate receipt books for cash payments, etc suggested as anti-embezzlement strategies.
There is a logic flaw here. You can make all the rules that you want, but when a team member decides that your rule interferes with the embezzlement that they want to carry out, the rule will quickly be ignored or circumvented.

Also, the fact that you block one, or ten, embezzlement “pathways” will not help you very much. To assume that an embezzler can only think of one or two ways to steal underestimates the creativity and motivation of thieves.

So if rules will not work, what will? Several studies, including one by the ADA, confirm that the majority of embezzlers telegraph their stealing by exhibiting certain behaviors. There are many examples — a reluctance to take a vacation, working unusual hours, providing financial reports late, etc.
Our Embezzlement Risk Assessment Questionnaire provides an excellent (and quick) barometer for staff behavior. You can check it out HERE.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
David Harris CPA, CMA, MBA, CFE, CFF
Chief Executive Officer
Prosperident — the world’s largest dental embezzlement investigation firm
Visit our website — www.dentalembezzlement.com

 

Guest Column: Add 5% To Your Net Income– Stop The Silent Money Siphon

Editor’s note — for most small businesses, including dentists, accepting credit cards is an expensive business necessity.  And if you have ever tried to compare the total cost of two different credit card plans, you know how confusing it can be.  So when knowledgeable experts can attack this problem for you, and get paid based on a percentage of the saving they produce, we are intrigued.  Read on…


By Eric Cohen

Expert tips can help protect your practice from needlessly losing money on credit card payments.

The system that allows you to collect money from your patients can cost you a lot more money than it should. There are hidden costs that reduce your bottom line without you realizing it! You know that running a practice costs money. You have all the typical expenses: rent, employee salaries and benefits, insurance, marketing, equipment, etc. When you accept credit cards, that costs you money also. Chances are, this revenue collection system costs you significantly more money than it needs to, acting as a “silent siphon” that slowly takes money out of your practice.

There are ways to reduce this cost and optimize the fees that you pay WITHOUT switching providers. Unfortunately, the credit card industry has made it impossible to understand exactly what it is you are paying for. There are hundreds of different cards (over 700 different VISA®, MasterCard®, and Discover Card® categories at last count), most have different costs spanning a wide range: from 0.05 percent to over three percent of the transaction total. Additionally, there are dues and assessments imposed by the card associations, monthly fees, equipment costs, transactions fees, PCI compliance and non-compliance fees; the list goes on and on! Most practices run their patients’ credit cards through their practice management software, so the cost of accepting credit cards increases because there is a middle man potentially taking a piece of your hard-earned money.

 

YOUR RATE VS. ACTUAL COST

Choosing a credit card processor is not all about your rate. Many times I’ve heard, “I have the lowest rate. We have looked at this many times.” It’s not always that simple to see what your true rate is. Many factors make up the total cost of accepting credit cards besides the markup your processor is charging you, and a busy doctor or office manager cannot interpret all the intricacies of this industry. What can you do? You can have a third-party expert that understands all aspects of the industry, knows all the costs of accepting cards, and can help your office analyze the information to ensure you are processing optimally and at the lowest cost.

 

WHAT ELSE IS THERE BESIDES PRICE?

Your office must use proper procedures when accepting a card. The same card taken by your office will cost you different amounts depending on how it is accepted. Most practices know when the patient presents their card in the office and it is swiped into the terminal, it costs less than taking the payment at a later date and the card number is keyed in. Did you know that the data entered into your system when the card is keyed will determine the cost of the transaction? There can be several reasons why your practice is not getting the lowest rate possible on every credit card keyed in, such as:

The team member keying the credit card was not educated on proper procedure or is too busy.

Your processor set you up incorrectly-the processors make more money this way!

Depending on your rate structure, your processor may make more profit when you don’t enter in all the required information for each transaction. Sometimes, processors will intentionally set up your equipment improperly to increases profits. These reasons can siphon off anywhere between 0.5 to three percent of your gross profit, which can translate to over five percent of your net income. Having an expert to identify this can increase your income five percent!

Another factor affecting your rate is coding. There are simple coding errors that can cost you thousands of dollars a year. When you initially sign up for processing services, a human being data enters the information and sets up the account in the processor’s system. If the person entering this information is not paying attention, had a bad morning, etc., they can make mistakes, such as:

Incorrectly entering your SIC (standard industry code).

This can increase your cost to accept certain credit cards. We have seen this happen many times. One example we discovered was a not-for-profit organization charged thousands of dollars a year additional because someone entered the wrong code.

These are just a few examples of errors that go undetected because no one monitors your account to ensure that you are processing optimally. The processors have no incentive to save you money! What all merchants need is an advocate who works for them, who is on their side, and whose incentive is to keep processing costs as low as possible.

Eric Cohen is CEO of Merchant Advocate

www.merchantadvocate.com

For more information and a free analysis, call Cheryl Donahue at 720-526-5318,

or email cdonahue@merchantadvocate.com

Steamboat CO police prepare dentist embezzlement case

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Alpine patients have been entrusted to Dr. Paul Andrews for care.

Steamboat Springs Police Department detectives expect to hand over a downtown embezzlement case to the Routt County District Attorney’s Office by the end of the week, Detective Dave Kleiber said Tuesday.

Detectives are investigating $30,000 to $40,000 reported missing from Alpine Family Den­tistry.

 An initial report Oct. 27 stated that about $14,000 was missing from the office, and Kleiber said police still are working with victims to tally the full amount of the theft.

Police said they have identified a woman as the suspect, but because she has not been charged with a crime, the Steamboat Pilot & Today is not releasing her name. Kleiber said the woman has hired a lawyer, and he is trying to talk to her again before the case goes to the court.

Calls to Alpine Family Den­tistry go to a message from dentist David Banks, who says that “due to unforeseen circumstances,” he is not offering dental care. A message on Banks’ listed home phone number said the number is disconnected.

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

FL woman accused of stealing identity of dental hygienist, treating patients at dentist’s office

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A woman is accused of stealing the identity of a dental hygienist and performing work on patients for years.

Investigators said Julia Merced stole the identity of a real dental hygienist — who said she had no idea someone was using her name — and has been working at Paradise Dental in Orange County.

Officials said they know Merced worked at the office over a two-year period, and her coworkers said she worked at several other places before Paradise Dental.

“It’s nerve-racking. Not many people actually inquire if the person treating them is actually licensed,” said Capt. Evangelina Brooks, of the Division of Insurance Fraud.

The office manager at Paradise Dental said she worked with Merced at Aspen Dental in Kissimmee about five or six years ago.

Investigators said Merced went by Julia Ann Rivera-Wolff and assumed the identity of a licensed hygienist with the name Julia Ann Wolff.

“She was treating patients for those two years on a regular basis,” Brooks said.

Paradise Dental learned about Merced’s real identity after she cosigned on a car loan, but gave a different Social Security number than the one used on her application.

The real Julia Ann Wolff is older and works in Port Richey, Florida.

“I can only imagine how many patients she actually did treat,” Brooks said.

Investigators said they aren’t sure of the exact number of patients Merced treated.

Merced was sentenced to 21 months in prison after she made nearly $400,000 filing tax returns for dead people.

Investigators are asking anyone who believes Merced worked on them to call authorities.

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Content retrieved from: http://www.wftv.com/news/local/woman-accused-of-stealing-identity-of-dental-hygienist-treating-patients-at-dentists-office/314041979