Prosperident Pulse #103 February 2021

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Newsletter February 2021
In January, we invited one of my favorite people, Kirk Behrendt, to join our monthly webinar as a guest presenter.
If you know Kirk, you know that he combines phenomenal energy with boundless optimism. And he certainly didn’t disappoint us. The theme of our January webinar was Hello, 2021! Full Steam Ahead. To a packed (online) house, Kirk made a statement that probably surprised many. He stated that dentistry is in a time of unprecedented opportunity for those who recognize how to take advantage of it. (You can check out Kirk’s remarks and gain some excellent takeaways from Kirk and the Prosperident team by watching the webinar, which can be found HERE.)
The past year’s events have made it easy to dwell on the punches that dentistry has taken. Empty chairs, closed practices, and increased overhead from PPE costs have become the norm.
While dentistry has been unquestionably battered and bruised, thankfully, it is still standing. A study conducted by the ADA in December showed that the average practice had recovered sufficiently to enjoy 78% of its pre-Covid patient volume. Since this is an average, it is safe to conclude that some dental practices are doing considerably better than this, whereas some are not. I spoke with a dentist earlier this week who said that his practice’s volume is 30% higher than pre-Covid levels.
What are the factors that differentiate the wildly successful dentists from those struggling to survive? That is exactly what our winter webinar series is exploring.
The theme of practice improvement will continue in our next webinar, which happens on February 18 at 8:00 pm Eastern. Our topic is Easy Steps for Your Best New Hire Ever! We are excited to welcome a special guest with fantastic ideas on this subject. Penny Reed, a shining light in dental consulting for many years, will be joining us.
In a 2020 webinar, we covered how to avoid the nasty “serial embezzlers” who skirt the vetting processes of most practices. This time we will examine a different side of the hiring problem, how to find and hire those elusive people who can help your practice reach its potential.
Our March offering will also grab the interest of many. We are very excited about our March 25 topic, Honing Your Practice Owner Skills.
My on-camera colleagues Wendy Askins and Amber Weber, our behind-the-scenes crew, and this month’s special guest Penny Reed all look forward to welcoming you into our audience in a few weeks. A registration link is below my picture.
And in case you need more incentive to sign up, we will draw 20 names to receive free copies of my book, Dental Embezzlement; The Art of Theft and the Science of Control, from all new registrants who enter “book offer” in the Remarks box on the registration form and register by February 15.
Yours truly,
David Harris
Designing Your Post Covid Practice
Join us for our Winter 2021 webinar series. For information and registration, please click HERE.
We are looking forward to “seeing” you on February 18 at 8:00 pm Eastern!
Want to check out one of our previous webinars? You can find them HERE.
Prosperident Inc. 888-398-2327

Webinar January 21, 2021 – Hello, 2021! Full Steam Ahead

Your hosts Amber Weber, David Harris and Wendy Askins welcome special guest presenter Kirk Behrendt. We discuss steps and strategies to make 2021 your best year ever.

If you want to check out other webinars that we have done, they are all available here –

If you want to check out other webinars that we have done, they are all available here – Or if you prefer to receive content in podcast format, Prosperident’s The Dental Practice Owner’s Podcast is now available on Spotify, TuneIn and iHeart Radio. You can subscribe using one of the buttons below.

Embezzler’s Lawyer – Thief Would not Been Charged if She Stole from a Dentist Instead of the County

Melissa K. Brennen

So this is how the rest of the world perceives the dental profession. We do not often report on embezzlement taking place outside of dentistry, but the attorney’s comments (bolded below) are noteworthy.

LISBON, OH — Melissa K. Brennen, the longtime employee of the county engineer’s office caught stealing tax map money, was sentenced to six months in prison Monday morning by county Common Pleas Court Judge Megan Bickerton.

Brennen, state Route 7, Columbiana, pleaded guilty in September to theft in office, a fourth-degree felony, after $2,940 was found to be missing from deposits made through the office between May 1 and Nov. 8 in 2019.

Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart had asked for a nine-month prison term.

Brennen’s defense attorney, Edward J. Hartwig, argued she led a law-abiding life for more than 40 years and has already been punished, not just with the loss of her job at the county engineer’s office, but also with the loss of another job after a background check was completed.

Hartwig further pointed out that if she had a similar secretarial job in any office that was not a public office, such as a dental office, she would not be charged with theft in office at all.

He provided the court with several letters supporting her and detailing Brennen’s volunteer work.

Brennen’s mother, Cheryl Brennen, told Bickerton her daughter has never been in any trouble her entire life and has been a big part of the family and a volunteer.

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Brennen said prior to sentencing. “I apologize to anyone who I have hurt.”

But Bickerton pointed out it was not that Brennen’s conscious got the best of her and she stopped on her own, nor did it appear that she needed the money, which came from the residents of the county.

Additionally, Bickerton said there are questions about whether the thefts were actually happening prior to the dates known. According to Bickerton, there was no recommendation from the engineer’s office about the sentencing of Brennen.

Bickerton said the decision to sentence Brennen to prison was not an easy one, because she believes the people who said Brennen is a good person.

“You are a good person,” Bickerton said, “but you made a mistake.”

Brennen was ordered to pay restitution and the attorneys were both asked to file briefs about whether Brennen should be ordered to pay for the special audit which had to be conducted after the money was found missing.

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Content retrieved from:

Missouri Office Manager Charged with Stealing from Dental Firm

Editor’s note:

Prosperident Senior Fraud Examiner Amber Weber was the lead investigator in this case.

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The office manager of a dental firm in Carthage stands accused of misappropriating more than $100,000 of the firm’s funds by allegedly skimming from cash receipts, overpaying herself and using the firm’s credit cards to make unauthorized purchases for herself and others.

Miranda Wolf, 43, of rural Joplin, was charged Dec. 21 in Jasper County Circuit Court with three counts of felony stealing following an investigation by Carthage police. She posted a $2,000 bond this week and was released pending a court appearance on Jan. 13.

Miranda Wolf

A probable-cause affidavit filed with the charges alleges that Wolf stole from Cornerstone Dental in Carthage while working as office manager there from 2017 to January 2020. Her responsibilities included the handling of the firm’s payroll, cash deposits and credit card and Amazon accounts, according to the affidavit.

During her tenure at Cornerstone Dental, Wolf allegedly failed to deposit in the firm’s bank account $59,421.14 in cash that customers paid to the firm. The affidavit states that she admitted to an investigator that she had skimmed the money from the firm’s cash flow.

She also purportedly gave herself a raise in 2019 that continued into January 2020 without the knowledge or approval of the firm’s owners. The change she made to payroll added $44,823.19 to her pay in 2019 and another $2,702.32 in 2020, according to the affidavit. The self-awarded raise also resulted in increases of the firm’s contribution to her retirement fund by $1,050.12 and of FICA contributions by $3,635.70.

The unauthorized purchases of items for herself and others made with the firm’s credit cards totaled $27,765.80, according to the affidavit. She also purportedly sponsored an acquaintance’s events with funds taken from the firm’s account without the owners’ consent.

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Content retrieved from

Prosperident Pulse #102 January 2021

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Newsletter January 2021
Hello, 2021! Full Steam Ahead
Like so many others, the dental community has endured a nearly year-long stress test. For the most part, dentistry's adaptability to change has been the foundation for its success in recovering from this unprecedented year. Although none of us wants to dwell on the year that was 2020, it did present us with an education and a few "silver linings" as we faced global societal changes and internal cracks, highlighted by the unusual circumstances that characterized the year.
The internal and external trials of 2020 set us at Prosperident on the path of an internal review. Our current policies, products, and services were all put under the microscope to ensure that we kept pace with the changes around us. We have always been committed to remaining a valuable and contributing entity in the dental community. To this end, my team and I have been working with valued clients and outside consultants to ensure that now and in the future, inclusion, diversity, and respect for each other remain a part of our mandate.
2021 will not be like 2020, thank goodness, nor will it be like 2019. The "exercise" of 2020 has delivered to us the remarkable gift of being grateful for change, no matter how difficult. Who we were, who we are, and whom we want to be will create a shift in how we all do business forever. Prosperident is not just a collection of experienced investigators, IT experts, and talented support staff. We are and have for over 30 years been all of those things and more. We are the total of all the energy, experience, and expertise that our team member brings to each investigation and service that we produce or perform. This you can rely on!
2021 will mark the beginning of fresh starts in many areas for both you and us. In January, Prosperident will launch a quarterly themed webinar series. The theme for winter 2021 is "Designing Your Post Covid Practice," and it reflects our commitment to no-cost education and CE's for all dentists, dental specialists, and dental practice owners. We have streamlined the registration process and concentrated on presenting topics meant to inform and educate you as you continue to reach your goal of having your most prosperous business year ever!
If there is a silver lining to the events of 2020, Covid has created a wave of thoughtfulness and caring for each other that, while always a hallmark of the dental profession and Prosperident, seems more genuine and authentic now. This is the one gift offered by the past year's events that my team and I will hold close.
Please join Prosperident as we invite all of you to put 2020 in the rearview mirror and as we all forge ahead, both stronger and more connected than ever.
Happy New Year!
blank David Harris
Designing Your Post Covid Practice
Join us for our Winter 2021 webinar series. For information and registration please click HERE.
We are looking forward to "seeing" you on January 21!
Prosperident Inc. 888-398-2327

Prosperident Pulse #101 December 2020

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Newsletter December 2020
Season’s Greetings!
The Holiday Season is upon us, and without a doubt, there will be a departure from all that we consider “normal” about our celebrations this year.
Like many of you, I’ve been feeling a little bit overwhelmed during the Coronavirus pandemic. Although my team and I were able to work, we certainly feel the pain and uncertainty that the pandemic has caused, particularly for our friends in the dental community.
I recently asked my team how Prosperident could best help you while you continue to face this unprecedented time of stress and uncertainty, especially going into this Holiday Season. The conversation that followed was inspiring, hopeful, and optimistic in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. Yay, team!
In the upcoming months, I will be putting several of my team’s progressive and innovative ideas into action. We are excited to evolve, and we sincerely want to continue to be a valued part of your community. Please know that we are here for you, and we will be making every effort to be available to you in every way we can to help you with your businesses as we celebrate the holidays and move forward into a brand new year.
The entire team at Prosperident wishes you and those you love a peaceful, joyous, and most of all, a safe and healthy holiday season.

David Harris
Prosperident Inc. 888-398-2327

Prosperident webinar November 22 2020; Healing After Stealing

Your hosts Amber Weber, David Harris and Wendy Askins welcome special guest presenter Dr. Len Tau, who will discuss reputation management for dentists.

If you want to check out other webinars that we have done, they are all available here – Or if you prefer to receive content in podcast format, Prosperident’s The Dental Practice Owner’s Podcast is now available on Spotify, TuneIn and iHeart Radio. You can subscribe using one of the buttons below.

Prosperident Pulse #100 November 2020

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November 2020
Next Webinar November 19!
We were pretty brave last month. We went head to head with the Presidential Debate — and we won. We had record registration.
In November, there will be no such distraction; the election will be a fading memory for most of us, and there are barely any sports on TV.
You have to like the title for November – Healing After Stealing. We will be talking about the effects of embezzlement on victims, staff, and their families.
The webinar takes place Thursday, November 19, at 8:00 pm Eastern / 5:00 pm Pacific.
To register, click HERE.
If you want to catch up on our previous webinars, including October’s The Million Dollar Club, Meet Embezzlement’s Elite, you can access them at THIS LINK.
PACE CE credit is available.
We look forward to having you back in our audience!
Happy Halloween from Prosperident
Most of you know Amber Weber as one of our Senior Fraud Examiners and as an on-camera host of our webinar series. But it doesn’t stop there — Amber has lots of other talents.
Here is Amber giving a Halloween Greeting (and some wisdom about hiring) in a Halloween Rap.
Click HERE to play the video.
Did you miss a previous newsletter? We archive them HERE.
Big News!
Our Embezzlement Risk Assessment Questionnaire has just received a major overhaul.
Our research into the causes and correlates of embezzlement never ceases, and we have just incorporated the results of that research into the new version of the Questionnaire.
The basic elements are still there; the Questionnaire consists of 37 yes/no completed online questions and takes less than 15 minutes. When someone takes it, they receive an overall score (we’ve simplified that a bit too) and an emailed report with details on a lot of the answers they provided and some recommendations based on their score.
The Questionnaire normally costs $139, but until November 30, we are offering it to practice owners at no cost.
What is the Most Secure Practice Management Software?
We are featuring excerpts from the upcoming second edition of David Harris’ book, Dental Embezzlement; the Art of Theft and the Science of Control.
A frequently asked question by doctors regarding practice management software is whether there is a brand of practice management software that is better at protecting a doctor against embezzlement.
This is like asking if one hammer is safer to use than another. All hammers have the potential to be safe if used properly and the potential to cause grievous harm if they are not.
Let’s start by looking at your software in a way that is slightly different than what you are accustomed to.
Something to Talk About…
As we move past Halloween and the Christmas season rushes headlong toward us, many people pause for a nanosecond or two in November to give thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed on them.
With the second wave of Covid arriving, a politically polarized population, racial tensions, and many other issues in the world, negativity is not in short supply these days. However, it wasn’t hard for me to come up with a lot of positives:
1. I’m thankful that my family is healthy and safe.
2. I am blessed to have the chance to work with smart, talented people who are also fantastic human beings (although some should not quit their day jobs — see the column to the left).
3. I’m thankful that, through the challenges of Covid, dentists have found a way to deliver the care that their patients need safely.
4. I’m really thankful that my giant son is ensconsed in residence at college and that feeding him is now someone else’s problem. The meal plan really is a bargain for him.
5. Most of all, my team is humbled by the partnership we have formed with the dental profession as we guide its members through particularly stressful periods in their lives.
Thank you for the trust you have placed in us!
David Harris
We are Prosperident, Dentistry’s Embezzlement Experts
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