In the April.May 2007 edition of Pink magazine there is an article that addresses the progression of women committing more crimes as they move up in the workplace. The FBI reports that embezzlement by women increased 80.5 percent from 1993 to 2002 and that the total number of women incarcerated increased 138 percent from 1994 to 2004. This seems surprising to some people because of the belief that women are more ethical than men. However, women may not be more ethical than men. A study conducted by Rita Simon, Ph.D., professor at American University's School of Public Affairs and College of Law in Washington, D.C., studied women and crime and argued that as women move up in the workplace their likelihood to embezzle or commit fraud increases. Women are not more ethical than men, they just didn't have the same opportunities in the past to commit these types of crimes as men were the ones in charge.
In 1995 women in corporate officer positions at the top 500 American companies was about 8.7 percent. This increased to 16.4 percent in 2005. In 2005 women accounted for approximately 45 percent of arrests for forgery and counterfeiting, fraud and embezzlement. These crimes are costly. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners:
In 2002, fraud cost corporations 6 percent of their total revenue, or $600 billion.
Executives are 16 times more likely than employees to commit fraud.
About 42 percent of corporate victims recover nothing. About 23 percent recover less than one quarter of their losses.
Small companies endure disproportionate losses from embezzlement.
Some of the more well-known names of women who have committed crimes and have been held accountable or charges are pending include:
- Rebecca Hauck -former executive assistant who scammed an estimated $15 million from unwary homeowners with her co-conspirator Matthew Cox. She was charged with bank and wire fraud, identity theft, money laundering and conspiracy and is serving a 6 year prison sentence, owes $1.2 million in restitution and proceeds from any potential book or movie deal.
- Lea Fastow (wife of Andrew Fastow) - Enron's former assistant treasurer who has served a 1 year prison sentence for tax fraud.
- Cheryl I. Lipshutz - former CFO of Enron Energy Services who was charged with violating anti-fraud laws and who has agreed to return $27,150 and pay a fine of $25,000.
- Kathleen M. Lynn - senior vice president of Enron International, also charged with violating anti-fraud laws. Her case is pending.
- Wendy Feldman - former Rancho Santa Fe stockbroker who deposited clients' checks and wire transfers directly into her own accounts and forged client signatures. Feldman cooperated with prosecutors and was sentenced to just over 2 years in prison and restitution of $4.2 million.
- Linda Schrenko - first woman elected to statewide office in Georgia and the first to be convicted of money laundering and conspiracy. After a plea of guilty she was sentenced to serve 8 years at the Tallahassee Federal Women's Prison.
- Joya Williams - former administrative assistant to the director of Coca-Cola's global brand marketing. Williams was found guilty of attempting to sell trade secrets to arch rival PepsiCo and faces up to 10 years in prison.
- Patricia Dunn - board chairwoman of Hewlett-Packard, charged with identity theft and fraud charges surrounding Hewlett-Packard's secret efforts to expose board members who were talking to the press. She has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
- Martha Stewart.
It will be interesting to see if this trend continues.
Source: ladies in lockdown by Mickey Goodman, PINK, April.May 2007