I’ve written previously about embezzlement and financial fraud in museums and historic sites, but even better is an AASLH webinar on Thursday, February 22 at 3:00 pm Eastern with Kelly Paxton, a national expert on embezzlement. Kelly is a certified fraud examiner who has worked in both the public and private sectors, including the US Customs Office of Investigations, Office of Personnel Management, and the Department of Homeland Security. I’ve gotten to know her through her website pinkcollarcrime.com about women embezzlers in the workplace, who unfortunately count many museums and nonprofits among their victims.
In less than two hours, you’ll learn policies and procedures that not only will help you prevent a devastating financial loss, but protect your staff and board members as well. The cost is $65 ($40 for AASLH members) and can help you avoid the loss of thousands of dollars and the long-term damage to your reputation. Indeed, it might be happening to you right now (these criminals are sneaky—has your bookkeeper avoided vacation in the last couple of years?). Learn more at Fraud at the Museum: Protecting Your Organization from a Devasting Event (part of AASLH’s Nightmare at the Museum webinar series).
In case you missed it, some recent news stories about embezzlement in museums:
Heritage Flight Museum in Washington: The bookkeeper stole more than $755,000 by forging checks and using business credit cards. She hid her theft by having the bank and credit card statements mailed to her home so that she was the only person reviewing them. She used a company credit care to charge more than $30,000 for her family’s expenses, and allowed a maintenance worked to charge a similar amount. “Former Bookkeeper Who Embezzled More than $750,000 from Orcas Island Couple Sentenced to Prison,” Plus Media Solutions, July 22, 2017.
Museum of Idaho: The business affairs manager is accused of taking cash from entrance fees and falsifying revenue to steal between $46,000-$107,000. The range of money stems from cash shortages found by the audit, but the higher total includes mistakes made by museum volunteers in processing cash payments, credit card sales, and check payments. The audit of the museum’s accounts found missing money recorded by the business affairs manager in an online accounting software QuickBooks compared against deposits into bank accounts. “Court finds in favor of museum in lawsuit,” Idaho Falls Post Register, May 24, 2017.
And a happy turn of events:
Storytellers Museum in Tennessee: “One of the greatest gifts Johnny Cash may have ever received came by way of an embezzling accountant. “Pete,” as Cash called him in his 1997 autobiography, had been taking Cash’s money and buying several properties, including a 107-acre farm in Bon Aqua. When Cash found out, the country music star made Pete sign over the properties. He and his wife, June Carter Cash, sold all of them, except for the one in Bon Aqua, which became his respite from the road. Now, Brian and Sally Oxley want to share Cash’s refuge with the world. On Tuesday both the Cash farm and the general store – which the Oxleys have transformed into the Storytellers Museum – opened to the public.” “Cash’s ‘sanctuary’ opens to public,” Dayton Daily News (Ohio), July 13, 2016.