A 40-year-old Oakland woman has been charged with embezzling $200,000 from a company that owns two popular Palo Alto restaurants.
The Santa Clara District Attorney's Office filed charges against Jennifer Colvin, the former human resources director for Rangoon Ruby and Burma Ruby.
The charges include two felony theft counts and allege that Colvin, who was in charge of payroll, increased her own monthly salary and paid herself bonuses without authorization between February 2019 and October 2020, according to a news release from the district attorney's office.
The owner of Rangoon Ruby and Burma Ruby detected the fraud in November 2020 after noticing discrepancies in their accounting.
“This theft happened during the height of the pandemic, when local restaurants were already struggling,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “Please develop robust checks and balances for your business. Trust but verify. Your livelihood depends on it.”
The DA's Office suggests the following steps to prevent embezzlement:
- Set up dual authority so oversight is built into the handling of finances (i.e., employee handling accounting is not the same employee in charge of writing checks).
- Run background checks for people who handle finances.
- Hire a CPA firm do a sampling of transactions on a regular interval.
- If you have a business with a high amount of cash transactions, keep good records, exercise high scrutiny and/or oversight, and/or consider converting to a non-cash business.
- When you discover an employee has been stealing, report it immediately to the police.