Embezzlement is among the most common form of white-collar crime. It begins with the entrustment of another’s funds under false pretenses. The methods used to embezzle can vary greatly and can be quite elaborate. Embezzlement includes “Ponzi” schemes of all kinds including but not limited to fraudulent billing, skimming off of payroll accounts, setting up false employee accounts, falsifying financial records, and diverting funds to fabricated vendor accounts. The king of embezzlement in our recent past has been convicted criminal Bernard Madoff. Financial advisors and money fund managers are not the only ones that have privileged access to entrusted funds. Embezzlement can occur when an attorney converts money by misappropriating a clients funds from the lawyers trust account. Unfortunately, trust violations are more common then you may think.
Finally, the key element of embezzlement is that the prosecutor must prove that the wrongful taking be intentional. Specifically, that the accused willfully, without claim of right or mistake intentionally converted the entrusted property for the accuseds own benefit. In criminal law this required mental state of bad intent is referred to as Mens Rea and must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal prosections.