Occasionally, a dentist calls us to say that he or she found an employee stealing who was fired or quit and that, because the suspect quit, the dentist believes that the “door is closed” on this matter, and no further action is required.
Are they right about this?
Although the departure of this employee will (hopefully) end the embezzlement, there are still several reasons why a proper investigation will make sense.
Most practices have some amount of insurance coverage for employee dishonesty. The most common coverage amount we see is $25,000. Accessing this insurance requires you to determine the amount you lost. And the insurance companies want this determination made by an outside expert, not the practice owner. This financial recovery is fairly easy to get if you follow the right steps, and the fact that the suspect quit does not change your ability to make a claim.
Although the suspect quit, whatever weaknesses in your systems were exploited by the embezzler still exist, and are available to the next thief. By not having an investigation, you lose the chance to learn and protect yourself in the future.
It is always possible that you were right about being embezzled, but had misidentified the perpetrator. In this case, you still have a thief in your office, but believe that the problem has solved itself. Complacency is the IDEAL climate for embezzlement.
There are two ways for an embezzler to steal — many embezzlers steal from you; others use your practice to steal from insurance companies. Not identifying money stolen from insurance companies (using your name) tends to migrate you in the eyes of the insurance companies from co-victim to perpetrator. And I probably don’t need to explain why having a large company with deep pockets and little tolerance for fraud mad at you is a bad idea.
Our investigations are normally completed fairly quickly (typically taking eight weeks or so) and are done stealthily, so that practice staff do not know that an examination is taking place. If the suspect quit, it is no harder for us to investigate.
The possibility of being an embezzlement victim is a very unpleasant one for most dentists, and the desire to have the problem simply disappear is an appealing one. However, ignoring the problem (or believing it has taken care of itself) can cost the practice financially and leave it exposed to considerable dangers.
If you think you have been an embezzlement victim, we are happy to have a no-obligation conversation with you about your options.