I can’t stand crooks, especially ones that prey on our most innocent population. That’s why this week I’m fuming, especially after hearing what happened to a Florida Girl Scout troop because of a bad bookkeeper.
This week, a judge sentenced the former Girl Scouts of Florida bookkeeper, Stephanie Person, to 27 years probation and $112,158.20 in restitution for pleading guilty to embezzling $85,000 from for a Florida Chapter of the Girl Scouts in Bradenton, Florida.
Police say the chapter’s ex-bookkeeper re-routed funds from an active troop account to an inactive one. Police say she stole enough money to buy 14,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies! Unbelievable!
So this crime reminds me to warn you make sure your bookkeeper is counting all your cookies (so to speak) and not ripping you off. Here are some things you should do to double check on your bookkeeper’s number keeping:
- CLOSE INACTIVE BANK ACCOUNTS – If you have an accountant or bookkeeper, they must have access to your bank account(s) in order to keep your books in order. To avoid facing a similar situation as the Girl Scouts of Florida in Bradenton, try to close any inactive bank accounts made in your or your business’ name. If you do have an inactive account that you don’t want to close, you can always put an alert on your account that sends you account activity notices via email or text.
- COMMUNICATE FREQUENTLY – If you have a bookkeeper, make sure you communicate with him frequently, not only via email, but in person and on the phone. At Brigade Bookkeeping, besides daily or weekly emails, we like to hold weekly conference calls with our clients to keep them up to date on their finances.
- HONESTY IS KEY – Make sure the person who is doing your books is trustworthy. Honesty and trust are important in my line of work. Go with your gut, but it also might be worth running a background check on a potential bookkeeper and her firm before you turn your bank accounts, credit card statements and business finances over to a stranger.
- GET A SECOND OPINION – If you have a bookkeeper and he is not giving you regular updates about your books, or is difficult to reach, then consider getting a second opinion. You shouldn’t have to beg your bookkeeper to review your own books.
No one is immune to crime and bad people, even the Girl Scouts. In this case, the Assistant State Attorney Dan Yuter summed up the crime by saying, “Instead of the money being used for the development of leadership skills for young women, the defendant chose to steal this money for her own personal benefit.” That should never have happened to the Girl Scouts, and it should never happen to you or any business owner.
So be proactive, communicate often, and make sure you trust your bookkeeper and accountant. This is the best way to make sure the person doing your books is really looking out for your bottom line.