I received a call on Christmas Eve.
The caller was not a dentist, and come to think of it, he never told me what he did for a living.
Still, based our conversation I could sense he was perhaps close to retirement age, well-off and and educated.
I’ll call him Joe.
Joe called me because he recognized the name of an embezzler on the Dental FraudBusters! website and wanted to know what happened to the embezzler after she was released from prison.
I asked why he was interested.
Joe told me he was in a relationship with this woman and had “loaned” her $60,000 just before she went to prison. (Joe did not know about prison at the time, and of course she has not repaid a penny)
I asked Joe a few more questions, and soon soon realized I could not help him as a client.
Joe just wanted to tell his story, so I obliged.
Joe’s story is one I have heard time and again.
In essence, Joe was targeted by this woman. She never told Joe about her previous job as a dental office manager or the criminal charges.
Instead she presented herself to Joe as an available, outgoing, “got it all together” woman who was very interested in him.
Joe told me he was single, and a law abiding man. Then he then went on to describe his relationship with this woman.
Joe told me while they were together, she made sure to “do things” that, in hindsight, left him in a compromised situation.
A situation that would made Joe unwilling to report her to police or seek legal action.
Ever since her release from prison, Joe has been trying to locate her, and to what end, I have no clue.
After my call with Joe, it occurred to me how similar his story was to other stories I have heard.
I do not keep count, but at least 3 times a month I get a call from a dentist who “knows for sure” that their employee has stolen money from the practice, and yet they are unwilling to do anything about it.
In this group of “do nothing dentists”, there are three segments:
The Ostriches – the largest segment; comprised of dentists who avoid conflict at any cost. They are reluctant to pursue legal action, and have rationalized it is better to lose (tens-of-thousands) than it is to confront the situation. I want to help this segment, but ultimately, their avoidance wins.
The Pragmatists – these are the dentists who, after speaking with me, reach the conclusion that there is limited or no benefit to pursuing legal action. In other words, it’s just not worth the time, cost and effort. (yes, situations like this happen. The conditions are idiosyncratic to each practice and usually involve small losses or misdemeanors)
The Dilemmists – are the remaining segment of dentists who find themselves in a situation like Joe. They get ripped off, and are left reluctant to do anything out of fear. On one hand, they want restitution but are precluded from taking action against their employees because they fear scandal.
It’s like being in a Mexican Standoff.
To avoid ever finding yourself in a compromised situation like Joe, follow these rules:
- Do not compromise your ethics or integrity. It’s just not worth it.
- Do not have improper relations with your employees, patients, suppliers or anyone connected to your practice.
- Do not “party” with your employees, patients, suppliers or anyone connected to your practice.
- Keep your personal life private. No one at work needs to know what you did in Vegas.
- Do not “cut corners” with insurance, remove cash from the practice or take other discretion at work. Lead by example.
- Use computers in the office for work only. Browse the internet and check email on your phone at work.
Thanks for reading – Bill