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How you use your company card could lead to criminal charges

| Mar 31, 2021 | Fraud & Financial Crimes |

When you work in sales, training or an executive position, your role will often involve representing the company in non-professional environments. You might meet with clients at a restaurant or travel across the country to negotiate with a supplier.

With those additional responsibilities often comes better compensation and more perks. Traveling for business frequently means that you will receive an expense card or business card that you can use to pay for your needs. From plane tickets to rental cars and meals on the road, business expense accounts allow you to cover all sorts of costs that crop up during business travel.

Even if you don’t travel for work, you might still need an expense card to cover the costs that you incur in the community while doing your job. Misusing that card could eventually lead to allegations of embezzlement.

People who misuse business cards often start small

You have a two-hour drive for a client meeting, so you need to stop for gas. You get to use the company card to fill up your tank, and you decide to pick up some snacks and a coffee at the station at the same time. You toss the itemized receipt and decide to just give accounting the actual credit card slip and claim that it was all gas.

When you don’t get caught, you may start thinking about charging a meal out with your spouse on the company card. After all, how can they tell if it was your spouse or a client? Especially if the company is bigger, it’s easy for a few inappropriate charges to go unnoticed.

However, the more inappropriate charges you make and the greater their amount, the likelier it is that you will eventually face company scrutiny. If they discovered a pattern of using the business account for personal shopping or entertainment purposes, they might force you to pay them back or fire you. They might also try to prosecute you. The amount of every charge could add up to serious consequences.

Company policy and common practices could influence your defense

If everyone in the sales department does the same thing, it would be inappropriate for the company to only prosecute one person for embezzlement. Additionally, if the company policy or the person who trained you encouraged you to exaggerate or take liberties with what you consider a business expense, you may not have had any criminal intentions but simply misguided expectations.

The sooner you look at the details of the financial records and the claims of your employer, the sooner you can start planning to defend yourself against allegations of embezzlement related to the use of an expense account.