May 01, 2007

How to Steal in Broad Daylight from a Coffee Shop

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 5/01/2007 12:26:00 AM
Ironically, as I was having my morning coffee and reading the Journal article about "Inside Jobs: Employee Theft", I observed an "Inside Job" at my local coffee shop - live and in broad daylight - which I will call "Wanda's Coffee" rather than Starbucks Corporation (Nasdaq SBUX) because really, it wasn't Starbucks - wink wink. I was paying for my coffee when I watched poor old Wanda's Coffee getting robbed blind by the barista.

If you've read this far, you must be wondering how to perpetrate an inside job and committ a mass heist. Either you are a young aspiring thief or a superhero crime fight. You are wondering: How do you steal in broad daylight without getting caught? I'm sorry to disappoint you, but what I'm about to offer you is merely looting on a micro scale! The secret to a mass heist? Stop nagging me.

Fine. Fine. Fine. I will reveal the secret to the world for the first time, but I disclaim any responsibility from any actions taken from my advice and recommendations, just like those lousy Wall Street analysts.

How to Perpetrate an Inside Job:
What I learned from going to Wanda's Coffee was in order to perpetrate an inside job, you have to handle the cash.

Step 1. Get a job as the cash till operator at a Wanda's.

Step 2. Get the customer to pay cash. The key to an inside job is when the customer's paying cash. My barista had charged me $3.00 for a coffee and I had paid $5 in cash.

Step 3. Ring up a round number that is more than what the customer paid in cash. The barista rang me up for $10 (when in fact I had paid $5) and paid me back $2.00 change. That $2.00 was the correct change for me, but it was not the correct change for poor Wanda's!

Step 4. Pocket the difference between the change Wanda's thought it paid and what you actually paid. Net ill gotten gain: $5 - the difference between the $7.00 in change that was recorded by the cash register and the $2.00 that was paid.

Congratulations, you just doubled your minimum wage. Now, repeat Steps 1-4 on the hour.

Now that's not grand larceny, but it shows you how these issues of shrinkage are committed on a micro scale every day. If it happened Wanda's, it probably happened to alot of Wanda's out there!

Why is this important? Because as an entrepreneurs, managers, and investors, you need to know not only how to delegate responsibility and to trust employees, but also how much responsibility to delegate and how much trust to grant them. Unfortunately, poor old Wanda's suffered from lack of judgment on both counts - delegating too much responsibility without checks and controls and granting employees so much trust as to enable them to take advantage of their authority and plotting "inside jobs."

Let poor Wanda's be a lesson to every entrepreneur. If you don't believe me, read this article about "Inside Jobs" which is about employee theft and dishonesty and read about the hero of the story (or anti-hero) is Diann Cattani who stole $500,000 from her employer.

Diann is the face of small-business fraud. Ms. Cattani spent 15 months in a federal prison in Florida from 2002 to 2004 for stealing on the job. A trusted employee at a small business owned by a husband and wife, she spent $500,000 of company money on personal items over four years, before turning herself in to her boss. Now, she speaks around the country in a fraud-prevention program called "Taking the Harder Right" -- a series of seminars conducted by Oliver G. Halle & Associates Inc., an Atlanta-based firm that specializes in corporate ethics and antifraud training.
Now that you know what's an inside job, go out and stop it.

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