Trusting Assistants With Access

Embezzlement Investigation Case Study

By Monica Dalwadi, CFE, CPA, CIA; Aaron Raddock, CFE, CFCM

Explore the case study of Evelyn Reynolds, a trusted executive assistant, who embezzled more than $100,000 from a children's charity for her own nefarious use. The authors outline how she did it and their investigation.

Many executives are lost without their professional assistants who control their daily activities — calendar appointments, meetings, telephone calls and expenses. But what if an assistant has too much control and exploits an executive's trust? 

Evelyn Reynolds, a supposedly faithful assistant to the chief operating officer at a prominent non-profit organization, perpetrated a multi-faceted fraud totaling more than $100,000. In less than 10 months, she provided herself with a rhinoplasty, a recreational vehicle and a pile of cash that she didn't earn. (See Figure 1 below.) MarchApril-the-spoils 

In this article, you'll learn:


  • How she perpetrated this fraud and the techniques she employed.
  • The warning signs that you, your supervisors and your executives need to know.
  • Details of our investigation.
  • Controls to help mitigate the risk of a similar fraud at your organization.


    Embezzlements are common, but they're often unnoticed until it's too late.

    (All the names of businesses and individuals are fictitious to protect the privacy of the victimized organization.)





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     Your Rating:
    Your Review:
    By Little Bahama Bank
    Thanks! Appreciate the details of your examination plan and the followup control recommendations.
    Good one. Agree that Internal controls should not be compromised at all even at higher level. This is true that generally the transactions are not reviewed by accounting team throughly if coming from higher level .
    By Anthony_Caruso
    By Jane Fowler
    By Alvin_Rodriguez-Mendez_2
    By Anonymous
    By Randy_Asserfea
    Also would like to share: Charities receive thousands of dollars in donation from its members and non-members. These donations take the form of cash and cheques: on several occasions receipts are not issued especially when donations are out of the region, state, country. When you observe charity custodians live in economic disparity, this is good reason to conduct further nvestigation. Randy
    By Dell
    Good review; it just amazes me the trust that these organizations put in individuals. The fraud triangle applies to ALL, not just employees that you aren't familiar with.
    By Michael_Katz
    Best article I've read on this topic in a long time.
    By Jennifer_40
    very informative. The article walked us through the fraud, how it was uncovered and the steps taken. Start to finish.
    By Kathryn_Wilson
    By Dennis_Dambruck
    Well constructed article!
    By Aaron Tiro Mopipi
    Well organized and informing article. Always turns out that those trusted most end up with more opportunities to perpetrate a fraud(s). By Mopipi
    By Anonymous
    Yet again the same story, different Organisation, different people. The solutions is simply and not that complex, segregation of duties and supervisory check. Well that is why people like us have work. Excellent story, enjoyed reading it.
    By Douglas_16
    Very well stated and organized. Enjoyed reading from start to finish. Nice job!
    By Pamela_14
    By Ernst & Young Advisory Pte Ltd
    By Bluez