You have to work for your money!

What would you do if you got a free paycheck? You didn't do any work for a company that deposited money into your bank account like clockwork... for almost five years. Welcome to Anthony Armatys's world. Anthony accepted a job with telecommunications company Avaya Inc. in 2002. But he changed his mind and never went to work for the company. Yet a recordkeeping error meant that he started receiving regular payroll deposits into his bank account until the error was discovered in early 2007.

All told, he received about $469,000 from Avaya and never whispered a word of it to the company. He also withdrew about $1,900 that was in a company retirement account. Now he's being charged with one count of theft by deception.

What ever happened to doing the right thing? Who in their right mind thinks it's okay to steal money from a company for almost five years? I'm sure there are some who can justify this in their minds... reasoning that the only victim is a big corporation. But we all know it's wrong. Heck, I even give back the money when a cashier gives me a dollar too much change. Where have our morals gone?

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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