It Ain’t Over ‘Til the Church Lady Steals a Million Dollars

church ladyIf a little ‘ole church lady would embezzle a million dollars from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York what makes you think the seemingly nice person you just hired won’t do the same or similar to your business? In the words of the Dana Carvey version, “Isn’t that just special”!

The New York Times reported on January 30, 2012 that Anita Collins, age 67, was charged with embezzling more than $1 million over seven years from the archdiocese.

While the Archdiocese does perform background checks on workers today, when Anita Collins was hired 8 years ago, a criminal background check was not performed. As a result they made what can only be described as a very costly mistake. According to the Times story, shortly before she was hired by the Archdiocese, she was on probation after pleading guilty to grand larceny for fraudulent acts performed while acting as a payroll clerk for a staffing agency. The Times goes on to say that prior to this in 1986, she was arrested on multiple counts of forgery, and ultimately convicted of a Class A misdemeanor. Applying for a finance job where there is no background screening requirement, “how Conveeeenient”!

When it comes to hiring workers, ‘faith’ just doesn’t cut it.

Every time we hear a story like this we have to stop and ask ourselves why an organization of any type would fail to check the background of someone who will be trusted with finances. Moreover, we would question the failure to perform some type of background on any worker, regardless of their position, considering employers have a legal ‘duty of care’ in the hiring process. Relying on blind faith, trust, luck, or anything other than facts is a practice that needs to be put to rest once and for all.

Too frequently, it is in hindsight that organizations discover the classic definition of a fraudster is personified by a trusted employee. Furthermore, the case of the church lady points to the broader risk management requirements of organizations that rely on the trustworthiness of people. If money talks, a case like this should have companies running to sign up for employment screening services and to secure the services of a risk management consultant to ensure proper controls are in place to avoid the losses that can occur when the wrong people are placed in a position of trust.

If you are concerned about the people you hire or the financial controls in place at your organization, we invite you to consult with a background screening expert here at Proforma Screening Solutions or with our partners at L&A, a risk management consulting firm.

About Michael Gaul

A security industry professional since 1988, Michael has extensive expertise in the fields of human capital risk management, physical security, and background screening process management. Michael leads Proforma’s sales, marketing, and strategic customer relations efforts.


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