It Takes a Thief: Women Who Steal Money

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Rising Numbers of Female Embezzlers

Every year, thousands of seemingly upstanding women like Cardina betray their bosses by stealing, anywhere from a few thousand dollars up into the millions. Nationwide, arrests of female embezzlers rose 42 percent between 1994 and 2003, compared with 2 percent for men, according to the FBI, while forgery and counterfeiting arrests for the same period rose 10.5 percent for women and were down 4 percent for men.

Authorities attribute the rise to the facts that more women are in high-powered positions, more of them have to support families alone, and more businesses are reporting the crimes. The women themselves offer all manner of motives. Some want to pay off gambling debts. Some are shopping addicts who fritter their stolen riches away. Some may bear a grudge against their bosses and seek retribution.

"These women have often been employed by an organization for a while, and because of low pay, a missed promotion, or bonus that was withheld they feel they're owed something," says Rachel Hutzel, a prosecutor in Warren County, Ohio. "They're going to commit theft in a way that requires deception, painstaking attention to detail, careful planning, patience. They have to be fairly intelligent women."

Clinical psychologist Helen Grusd, PhD, a former president of the Los Angeles County Psychological Association who has counseled convicted embezzlers, says it's important to differentiate between habitual thieves, unashamed of their crimes, and those for whom embezzlement is an aberration. "A lot of women are shocked by their own behavior, almost as if another being in their psyche has come out," she says.

Continued on page 3:  Why Do Women Steal?


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