Employee Theft vs. Embezzlement: What’s the Difference?

embezzlement investigations in Orange CountyIn today’s business world, you must not only stay vigilant against outside security threats, but also against  your own staff. Workers’ comp fraud, employee theft, and embezzlement are all-too-real hazards that could put the success of your business at risk.

At Systematic Inquiry Group, our Orange County private investigation team specializes in helping business owners catch the culprit of internal corporate crimes, especially in employee theft and embezzlement cases. Do you know the difference between the two?


Theft is the intentional stealing of property. In California, any theft under $950 is considered petty theft, while any theft over that amount is considered grand theft and is subject to harsher sentences. In felony convictions of grand theft, the penalty can be up to 3 years in jail, plus fines and restitution for the wronged party.


Embezzlement differs from simple theft in that it involves a breach of trust in addition to simply depriving one’s employer or business partner of property. Embezzlement occurs when a business entrusts someone with the responsibility for property or financial assets and the person exploits that trust in order to divert company money or property to themselves for personal enjoyment without the consent of the victim.

Common scenarios include an accountant skimming off the top or an executive within a company using a corporate credit card to pay for trips, dining, vehicles, and other luxuries not authorized by the company. In felony embezzlement cases, the convicted party could face 3 years of jail time, a fine of up to $10,000, and being forced to pay restitution to the victim.

If you suspect an employee or business partner of embezzlement or internal theft, call us immediately at 714-406-4618. We can help you gather the proof you need to successfully press charges, and in some cases may even be able to obtain a written confession from the perpetrator. To learn more about our private investigation services for California businesses, take a look at our services page and contact us to set up a consultation.

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