I found out two months ago that my assistant has been stealing money from the company. She’s been doing it since February 2016, and has gradually started siphoning money from the company account to her personal bank account.
When I discovered it, I couldn’t believe it.
This was a woman I entrusted money to. Whom I foolishly believed would NOT steal. Who I’ve worked with since I started with the company.
Here was a single mother of a 7-year old boy, whom we hired after she was ceremoniously dumped by her live-in partner for another woman. She was amicable and friendly, positive in thinking and work, and seemed adamant to do good for the future of her little boy.
And yet she stole.
She stole for her son’s medications since he had asthma. And she stole to fund her sibling’s application to work in Saudi Arabia, and to be a sugar mommy to her uneducated and poorer driver boyfriend.
I found out last December and I was sad for a week. Here she was, lying to my face. My husband and I went to our lawyers and they convinced us that the best way to approach this is to bring this charge to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Unfortunately, that meant not confronting her as soon as we found out. “Cooler heads will prevail,” our lawyer said. This is not only a criminal case, but if done improperly can be an HR headache. “There must be due process,” he warned.
It is apparently not uncommon for fired employees who stole money to report to the Department of Labor to ask for their backpay for being unfairly fired.
So we waited till we built the case.
We spent two months observing her, first by removing her from a position where she can steal even more money, and to slowly but surely transition her work to another co-worker so that even if she ran away, the company operations would keep running. And we made sure that every single offense was properly documented to protect us from possible labor complaints labor on.
Of course, that meant giving her her 13th month pay, which is by the law, and continuing to employ her until she received her NBI subpoena. We even had to include her in our Christmas party where she gave a sweet speech on how good the company was to her.
Ha! If only people could see the hypocrisy of her words!
I am not a fake person, so it was a struggle for me to treat her fairly and nicely as if nothing happened. In the beginning it was hard. This was someone I trusted, and she has severely, blatantly and grossly betrayed this trust. At home, I was saddened and sickened on how she could do it.
But after awhile, I focused more on our business and our people, and things were a lot easier to bear.
Hence, when she was served her NBI subpoena this week, it was finally a sweet relief after months of waiting. The NBI was delivered to our office by courier, and was opened by her at her desk.
Then, we talked to her.
At first, she denied the allegations, saying that she will help find the money. “It’s just there, ma’m,” she countered as she flipped through our company passbook.
But when I told her that the money was NOT there, that I’ve checked, triple checked and checked again, and the money was still not there and only she had access to the money, she broke down and confessed to everything.
She confessed how she stole the money. How she slowly took money from the company account until the amount was too big for her to pay.
She confessed on where she spent the money. She spent it on her son, and her sibling’s application to Saudi, and on her boyfriend, among many other things. The money is now gone, and there’s no way she can recuperate the money.
She confessed how she stole our company ledger in the attempts to hide her crime.
And she confessed how she forged my signature in November 2016 to steal cash.
Basically, she confessed everything. I already know about everything and have sufficient proof to tie her to all of her illegal activities, but it was still nice to get some closure and an answer from her own words that she took it.
According to the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, Article 308 and 309, given her crime, she is liable to be jailed for 20 years:
“Article 308. Who are liable for theft: Theft is committed by any person who, with intent to gain but without violence against, or intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take personal property of another without the latter’s consent.”
You may file a complaint for theft against your housemate who took your cellphone before the Office of the Prosecutor of the place where your cellphone was stolen. To successfully prosecute her of the crime of theft, you must prove the following elements: 1) that there be taking of personal property; 2) that said property belongs to another; 3) that the taking be done with intent to gain; 4) that the taking be done without the consent of the owner; 5) that the taking be accomplished without the use of violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things (Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code (Book Two), 14th Edition, page 686).
The penalty for the crime of theft shall depend upon the value of the thing stolen. Since the value of your cellphone is P18,000, the penalty to be meted out to the person liable to the theft is that which is provided in Article 309 par. 1 of the Revised Penal Code, to wit:
“Article 309. Penalties. – Any person guilty of theft shall be punished by:
1. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the thing stolen is more than P12,000 but does not exceed P22,000, but if the value of the thing stolen exceeds the latter amount the penalty shall be the maximum period of the one prescribed in this paragraph, and one year for each additional P10,000, but the total of the penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.”
Add forgery to the list of crimes and if caught, her son will be 27 years old when she gets out of jail.
She broke down and cried in front of us. She said how sorry she was, and how we haven’t really been bad employers but she was only forced because she needed the money.
Now before you feel bad for her, please know that I have other people under my employ who earns a lot less than her.
Her salary was high enough for a supervisory position and her bonus last year was probably more money than she’ll ever earn in a single month. This is a person with money, who foolishly became Mrs. Santa Claus to her relatives and boyfriend, stealing money from the company because she didn’t think she’ll get caught.
No, she didn’t need more money. She had more than enough. She was just stupid enough never to say no when her family and boyfriend asked for money and felt that the company bank account was a convenient ATM machine.
So I don’t feel bad for her. She stole money from ME. From the company. If she knows she will feel bad, then she shouldn’t have stolen money in the first place.
Good people do NOT steal. People who steal are THIEVES.
And if you steal, the law takes the case out of my hands and put you in jail.
For her offense, that’s 20 years (excluding forgery) of jail.
Again, we have a very strong case. There’s nobody to blame but her, and the fact that she even forged documents to steal more money is damning.
But cool heads must prevail — I told her that because she stole the money, she must return the money in full.
“The more you return, the shorter your sentence will be,” I told her. “But if you do not pay it back, there will be an arrest warrant for you this year and you WILL go to jail. And if you go to jail, who will take care of your son?”
People celebrate when a relative becomes Mrs. Santa Claus and give them financial assistance. But how many relatives and friends will actually be there for you and your family IF they know you are a criminal in jail?
“Think about your child,” I implored. “Do the right thing.”
It’s obvious what will happen to her child if she doesn’t do the right thing. Multiple studies show how children of incarcerated people suffer. Some answers are here, here, and here.
As a mother, I pity her child. I think a child must be innocent of her parents’ mistakes, and yet, it can be traumatic for any child to know that his/her mother is in jail for doing the wrong thing.
Despite being a mother, I still believe that crime does not pay. I believe that the world must be balanced, and despite how I feel, crime should be corrected. The law must met out the correct punishment.
It’s all about the principle. For me, there is doing the right thing and the wrong thing. Always do the right thing. And if you do the wrong thing, the universe will come and bite you in the butt so hard you don’t know what hit you.
In fact, what I did is more than fair — the whole process in getting her arrested for jail will take 3-4 months. If she can come up and return the money in full, we will drop charges and she can chock this experience to one bad dream.
“Given your experience with us, you can find a better job elsewhere,” I advised. “But if you don’t return the money, you will end up in jail. The police WILL find you. We will make sure they do their job. So do the right thing.”
I honestly don’t know if she will follow my advice. Most people don’t. That’s why they get into trouble. That’s why she stole money in the first place.
But I hope she doesn’t underestimate my act of kindness as a way to flee. As a mother with a child, you can’t flee too far. You can’t run away for years. Justice will still be served if not this year, but the next or the next.
70-30 she will flee. Let’s see if she will face her crimes. But at least, there’s a good preliminary conclusion to this investigation. Now, let’s see what happens in the next couple of months.
Any comments, please let me know.
4 thoughts on “When Someone Betrays Your Trust”
I am from law enforcement agency in India and happen to come across many such embezzlement cases. It was your fortune that the process of stealing and the person came to your notice quite early and you took all precautions and steps to bring that lady to prosecution books. Nicely described the process.