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I had an employee that was depositing checks and used out on…

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I had an employee that...
I had an employee that was depositing checks and used white out on a check in order to deposit it into the business account. The check was reversed but wondering what the implications are at this time if the issuer or other party pursues our company.
Submitted: 1 month ago.Category: Criminal Law
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Answered in 10 minutes by:
3/12/2018
Criminal Lawyer: Attorney Wendy, Lawyer replied 1 month ago
Attorney Wendy
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 531
Experience: Member at Keefer & Keefer LLC
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Hello. My name is ***** ***** I am an attorney. I am preparing a response to your question and should have that to you shortly.

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Criminal Lawyer: Attorney Wendy, Lawyer replied 1 month ago

Obviously, your primary concern is for liability that could fall on the business for the employee's actions. The first thing is to deal with the employee, if you have not already. Should the issuer of the check seek any civil damages or pursue criminal charges, you will want to be able to show appropriate action was taken upon learning of the incident. If the issuer is someone or an entity with which you regularly do business, it may not be a bad idea to send a message acknowledging that there were irregularities with the handling of the check, that the responsible employee has been dealt with and that you are reviewing the current handling of all financial matters to prevent any future issues and apologizing for any inconvenience. There is always a pro and con to reaching out, in that doing so can provide incredibly goodwill and also show you take it seriously. On the other side, there are some who may choose not to take this step for fear it will highlight the issue and cause the issuer to take action they may not even have been considering. I tend to lean more toward the upfront and honest approach as a long-term better business policy. But you know the other side of the issue and may have to take your relationship with that party into consideration in making a decision. As an employee of yours, and assuming that the handling of the check to be deposited was within the scope of the employee's employment (which it appears it was), you could be responsible for any misconduct of the employee. If the white out was to change what was perceived as just a ministerial error (name misspelled, incorrect date/year, etc.) rather than to change the amount to be paid or a signature, it is still unlawful, but without bad intent; so that type of action - in terms of any response with the employee - needs to be considered and the employee, if still employed, would need to be counseled as to the impropriety of such action.

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Please note: This information is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No course of action is being proposed and no attorney-client relationship or privilege has been formed as a result of this conversation.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
the customer has refused to pay and we actually have a potential criminal case against her as she tried to run over our employee and threatened our workers with a gun and a machete. Police were called numerous times and so the relationship with her as a customer is already rocky at best. How do we as a company try to get our money from the contract that we signed?
I can acknowledge the mishandling but not sure where to go from there
Criminal Lawyer: Attorney Wendy, Lawyer replied 1 month ago

What did your employee use the white out on - what part of the check? That information will help respond to this question.

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Criminal Lawyer: Attorney Wendy, Lawyer replied 1 month ago

Happy Friday. I just wanted to check in to see if there was anything more I can do to help answer you questions.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I think is was on the payee portion. They didn't want to wait for the mortgage company or something like that. The person gets paid based on when checks clear so I guess they wanted their money faster. I believe that the mortgage company was whited out.
Just looking to see if it is something brought to court if the issue and the previous issue with the homeowner being "crazy" will help or hurt our company.
Criminal Lawyer: Attorney Wendy, Lawyer replied 1 month ago

Obviously, it is unlawful to change the payee. What liability the company has will depend, as previously mentioned on whether this was part of the regular job duties such that the employer can be held responsible. If ultimately all the funds ended up where they were supposed to, I wouldn't be greatly concerned about it. But it sounds as if the customer hasn't paid all that is owed and so now the real issue is how to collect those funds without risking a claim on her end related to the check issue. Acknowledging the employees error, explaining that it likely stemmed from the duress of not wanting to wait or deal with the customer any more than necessary due to the prior incident, may help. That said, altering the check is a crime and there is a balancing act here between taking proper action against your employee, protecting that employee from criminal prosecution if possible, and also collecting from this customer. I am not sure (though I also do not know how much money is at stake) it is worth the potential criminal liability if you push the customer. But if you have additional facts or questions that may help you way your options, please feel free to send them to me.

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