From Wendy Askins – Orthotown:
Three out of every five dentists will be the victim of embezzlement during their practice career. We don’t have current studies or statistics of incidences of theft specific to orthodontic offices, so I’ll share insight from personal investigation experiences:
- Most thieves are first-time offenders; less than 15 percent are serial embezzlers.
- The average scheme extends over a two- to five-year period before being identified. The resulting loss is more than $100,000.
- The average employment tenure is five years.
- There is an inverse correlation between tenure and perception of exposure. In a recent investigation, a trusted, 20-year tenured employee stole $500,000 over 11 years.
- The average hourly compensation rate for the employees found to be embezzling is $16–$25.
- Thieves can cannibalize 3–5 percent of monthly collections without being detected.
- Cash is the main target, but theft of patient checks (personal and insurance) is increasing dramatically.
- The average theft encompasses a minimum of three schemes.
- Manipulation of transactions can occur during all financial phases of treatment from new-patient to retention.
- The most identifiable theft transactions are located in adjustments, deposit tampering and deposit payment substitution.
Increasingly sophisticated management technology results in increasingly sophisticated thieves. High tech systems, digital management and online banking all make our business lives easier however they also create opportunity for employee theft.
The article makes a big point that the doctor should NOT confront an employee if the dentist suspects embezzlement. A thief could decide to destroy all the records in order to hide their crime. If you suspect you are the victim of employee theft contact a specialist immediately. Do not confront the suspect do not even show you are suspicious. Let the forensic specialist review the records, document the crime and bring in law enforcement.