Embezzling on the Rise...With Women at Front of Curve?

Embezzlement by women skyrockets; no longer just a man's crime

Implementing fiduciary checks and balances can result in additional expenses that small firms resist, Mighdoll said. "Most of these companies are not set up to do that."

Companies and organizations that enable one employee to become indispensable by being the only one who, for example, knows how to prepare financial reports, are among those at risk, Strock said. If he comes across an organization with financial irregularities that has an employee who never takes a vacation and is unusually nice, "I get really suspicious," he said.

"They have a cigar-box mentality of running the business," Strock said of some not-for-profit groups with which he has worked. "If you leave the cookie jar without the lid on it, people tend to take the cookies."

The workplace thefts studied by the fraud examiners' group found that only one defendant in 351 cases was acquitted; more than 73 percent pleaded guilty and about 15 percent were convicted at trial.

Recovering the loot, however, was more difficult. About 42 percent of victims got back nothing; 23 percent got less than one-quarter of what was stolen.

Palm Beach County victims fare similarly, Mighdoll said. "Generally, we cannot find the assets."