Criminal embezzlement is the act of stealing property or other assets. The person doing the stealing is usually someone trusted to secure those assets or otherwise keep track of them. It is considered financial fraud and usually entails a degree of premeditation. The person committing criminal embezzlement has usually devised some sort of plan to cover up the process so he or she does not get caught in the act. Criminal embezzlement can be committed on very small scales or large ones, depending on the amount or size of the assets being siphoned or the extent to which the embezzler has stolen the assets.
The definition of criminal embezzlement can be a tricky one, and it varies from situation to situation. The person committing the crime must knowingly steal the assets that they do not have any lawful claim to. The criminal must have committed the crime while knowing the property was not his or hers. The criminal must have knowingly prevented the true owner of the asset or property from utilizing or obtaining his or her property. The most important aspect of criminal embezzlement is the criminal or supposed criminal must have been in lawful possession of the property at the time of the crime. If the criminal did not have lawful possession of the property, the crime is considered larceny, not criminal embezzlement.
An example of criminal embezzlement would be a banker siphoning funds from customers. By taking in the customer's money, the banker has lawful possession of that money. If he or she siphons money from that customer's deposit into his or her own pockets or accounts, the act is considered embezzlement. Another example would involve using such funds for other purposes not set forth by the true owner. If the owner of the funds deposits the money into an account and the bank or banker uses those funds for another purpose, it is considered embezzlement.
Embezzlement can be a tricky crime to pull off, and most embezzlers must falsify documents in order to continue to embezzle. Successful embezzlers often embezzle property or funds over a long period of time so the losses are not immediately noticeable, though other embezzlers can take property or assets in large lump sums. Dummy companies are often used in embezzlement; fake bills may be sent to a company and paid for with company checks. Those checks are then cashed by a company that does not exist, thereby using the funds for purposes other than intended.