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Embezzlement: What it is and how it’s punished

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2022 | White Collar Crimes |

Embezzlement can affect any business in which two or more employees handle money, whether it’s a few hundred dollars or a million. It’s important to understand what this crime is under the law in South Carolina.

The meaning of embezzlement

Embezzlement is an advanced form of theft that is more complicated and damaging than a simple theft. It is a breach of fiduciary duty that involves being entrusted with an employer, coworker or customer’s money and misusing it for personal gain.

Embezzlement includes fraud that involves cash, checks and digital currency that varies from transferring money between bank accounts to writing off checks to cover inadequate funds. Embezzlement is connected to various other white-collar crimes such as money laundering, check fraud, wire fraud, breach of data and falsification of documents.

How it is punished by law

Embezzlement is punishable as a misdemeanor or felony under state and federal laws. A crime involving a small sum of money is often classified as a class C misdemeanor, but one that involve a large sum is a felony. A convicted person may be forced by court order to return the stolen money or pay a fine to the victim, which is often two or three times the value of the money. A convicted person can be fined, imprisoned or both depending on severity of the crime.

Why embezzlement is prosecuted seriously

Embezzlement is legally more serious than normal theft, robbery or burglary. It is a theft of money that is also a violation of trust and a betrayal from members of a business or organization who are entrusted with money. The severity of punishment for this crime depends on the amount of money taken and the state’s laws.