You have problems if you've stolen 100 burritos from a charity


Even after investigating fraud for almost 14 years, I'm still often amazed at the guts and arrogance of those who steal from others. I just wasn't raised to think it's okay to steal. Anything. So I get pretty irritated with people who do steal and act as if there's nothing really wrong with it. They think if they say they're sorry, that fixes it all. Too bad for the victim, because the thief will pretend the victim didn't really need the money or property anyway.

I get even more upset when fraud happens to churches and other non-profit organizations. It just seems even more wrong than stealing from for-profit companies. Non-profits rely on donations and fundraisers, and their budgets are often very tight.

So imagine a guy wearing a Relay For Life t-shirt and going to "pick up" 100 burritos that were being donated to a benefit concert. The burritos were going to be sold for $4 each, but the guy in the t-shirt (who wasn't really affiliated with the Relay For Life event) ran off with them. What does one do with 100 stolen burritos? Seriously. How many can he eat? He's going to have to share them with others, who will likely tell on him once they read the newspaper article about the theft.

Stealing is a bad thing. Stealing from a charity event is even worse. Shame on Burrito Boy.

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.