by Libby Libhart
The Shift Manager of the fast food restaurant sat in his car, under a shade tree in a parking lot. On the floor board are unused disposable deposit bags and a destroyed deposit bag that had been sealed with last night’s closing deposit. The manager had sliced open the deposit bag and the passenger seat is littered with the contents – ones, fives, tens, twenties, and change. He will use one of the unused bags to make a new deposit. The manager counted the funds several times, his stress level mounting. The amount is not enough to match a deposit slip for a deposit dated two days ago. Two days ago? What is going on here? Why did he open a deposit bag today for funds to match a deposit ticket that is two days old? Do you know?
This is a theft scheme called “rolling deposits” and unfortunately it is not uncommon when retail and restaurant managers prepare deposits and make deposit runs to the bank. The employee steals all or a portion of the day’s deposit and makes up for the stolen cash from the contents of future deposits to cover the thefts. The scheme continues as long as the manager has access to deposits.
The tell tale sign of the “rolling deposit” theft scam is deposits taken to the bank by a particular manager are consistently validated by the bank several days after they should be. Deposits taken to the bank by the other managers are validated on time. The stress level of the manager who is scheming mounts as the need to match deposit funds with unvalidated deposit tickets becomes increasingly complicated. As in the example above, the deposit the manager opened is not enough to cover the past deposit ticket. The manager will now have to wait to add funds from tomorrow’s deposit to conceal his thefts.
If the business is using disposable deposit bags and the deposit was prepared by another manager, our shift manager involved in the theft scheme makes the bank run with the deposit. As in the scenario above, the shift manager in order to continue his thefts, must cut open the sealed deposit bag and remove the cash and the accompanying deposit slip.
With no intervention, these theft schemes can go undetected for a long time and the cash losses can be staggering. Experienced security and loss prevention professionals can easily reveal the fraud with a little investigation. In my experience, the manager conducting the rolling deposit fraud will readily confess when interviewed properly. They are so stressed trying to keep the scheme floating, they are generally relieved that it is over.
There are tried and true protocols in establishing sound loss control practices to prevent this type of scheme and ways to easily uncover it. If you suspect one of your employees of rolling deposits:
1. Develop a chart – across the top of the chart list these columns: Date, Shift (deposit), Amount of Deposit, Bag #, Depositor Name, Date of Bank Verification. Make a separate line for each deposit. Down the left side of the chart, list the sequential days of the month. Fill in the corresponding information starting with the first of the month.
2. Analyze the chart – Look for patterns and discrepancies such as missing disposable bag numbers from the sequence, “leapfrogging” of bag numbers and deposit validations from the bank. Look for a pattern of the same manager taking the deposits to the bank when the discrepancies occur.
3. Action – Prohibit suspect’s access to deposits. If rolling deposit scheme is occurring, a deposit will soon show excessive shortages or missing altogether. Track the deposit activity for past months to get a better indication when the discrepancies first appeared.
- Require all deposits be sealed in disposable deposit bags
- Eliminate the vinyl/canvas/zippered pouches
- Record deposit bag number with corresponding deposit
- Require depositors to sign for deposits they take to the bank
- Check all deposit validation dates from the bank with the dates of business
- Develop strong cash and deposit auditing programs looking for deposit bags and validations out of sequence
- Have a bank representative notify you of “late” deposits (> 3 days late)
- Consider SMART safes or armored car service
Taking deposits to the bank is a common practice for Fast Food (QSR) restaurant and retail management. It is fraught with issues such as time away from management responsibilities in the restaurant or store, exposure to traffic accidents and crime, and this “rolling deposit” theft scheme. Although seemingly the cheapest way of getting funds to the bank, it may be most costly should the manager be seriously injured or killed in a car crash or armed robbery during the transport. Stealing tens of thousands of dollars from deposits may pale in comparison.As new technology is developed, armored cars service becomes more competitive, and ways of banking become more progressive it may be time to rethink how we get our money to the bank and eliminate the exposures to our people and our profits. So what is going here? Why are certain deposits getting to the bank several days late?
Now you know, and now you can do something about it.
How much do YOU know about restaurant security and safety? Test your knowledge by taking our quizzes on theft, fraud, robbery, safety, workplace violence and food cost control at http://www.LossBusters.com.
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