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I fucked up reeeeally bad (Caught stealing at work)

Absolute_IdiotAbsolute_Idiot Registered User
edited March 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
I made a series of idiotic decisions, and got caught.

I work in a coffee shop that offers prepaid gift cards, customers load cards, use that as cash. I, for the past few months, have been falsely adding tips to these card transactions, and got busted this afternoon. I was basically told that they had been wondering why my afternoons were so much smaller than the other people's for awhile now, and after printing out all the transactions they noticed that there were tips on almost all of the gift card transactions, and that they were large tips. I was given the option to quit, they will go through everything tonight, tell me how much I owe them, and I meet them tomorrow with the money, or they will print everything and go to the cops. I am absolutely fine with repaying everything, it was a stupid, stupid decision, and I feel terrible about it. I was stressed about money, but that is no excuse. My only worry is that I will not have enough cash to give them, and they will not be willing to deal. Is there any room for me to negotiate a payment plan here? The evidence they have seems terribly circumstantial. Essentially, they don't think I was rightfully being tipped that much, but there isn't really any way to prove it without going to each individual person and asking. Again, I am fine with repaying it. I know I was a moron. Help would be appreciated.

Absolute_Idiot on
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Posts

  • Captain VashCaptain Vash Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Not that it's terribly important, but I don't understand the mechanic by which you were obtaining money...
    were you overcharging the customers for prepaid cards? seems like people would notice that.
    any other "tip" related mechanic i imagine would involve a register shortage.

    Either way I'd say you're pretty screwed.
    It sounds like you already confessed your guilt to your employer.. so even if you did pay them back whats to the stop them from turning you over to the cops anyways?
    good luck getting a job in this shitty economy with a criminal record that includes theft from your employer.

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  • Absolute_IdiotAbsolute_Idiot Registered User
    edited March 2009
    I was taking money off of the cards. People can add tips to the cards, since they are basically cash. And I didn't so much admit theft as just leave. I was given the option to leave and repay or face the cops, but I never outright said I did it. I just said, okay, I'll leave.

  • Captain VashCaptain Vash Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Honestly, whatever your options are they'll be completely at the whim of whatever manager you're dealing with.
    S/He is basically in a position where they're extorting you for the money you stole.

    Since I doubt the manager is going to track down each of those customers and apologize and give them their money back that leaves the question of what the manager is going to do with this unaccounted for money... report an overage in the register?

    is this a corporate chain or a ma and pa location...?


    Basically you're at your manager's whim. It is extortion. it is not legal. However due to the nature of the crime you can't exactly report without being caught yourself...

    The evidence might not hold up in court if it ever came to that... but are you willing to dig yourself further in the hole by committing perjury in the form of lying to a cop and hoping that circumstantial isn't enough for a judge?

    at any rate, I get a feeling like I'm not telling you anything you didn't know already.

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  • Absolute_IdiotAbsolute_Idiot Registered User
    edited March 2009
    There are no managers, I was confronted by the owner herself. And yeah, I don't think she is going to track everyone down. I knew all that already, but it really does help to hear it from someone else. I made a stupid, stupid decision, and I will never do anything of the sort again.

  • VariableVariable Weed and Masturbation Stroke Me Lady FameRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    bring as much as money as you can and if it's not enough, ask if there is any way you can do right by them and pay them asap or over time. be completely honest, you seem to understand what you did wrong so it shouldn't be hard to get them at least willing to give you the opportunity. Most managers in that position, or whoever it is, aren't looking to press charges as long as you can make it right/.

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  • Captain VashCaptain Vash Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    as an aside; if the owner has receipts that show your fake tips she only has to track down one customer with a card to file a police report against and you're fried.

    You're stupid situation and there is no good solution.

    pay the money and hope she doesn't go to the cops anyways.
    or
    just go to the cops yourself and deal with the consequences of your actions.

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  • MedopineMedopine __BANNED USERS
    edited March 2009
    cooperate with your manager

    if she goes to the cops, and they come to talk to you, admit what you did up front and tell them that you know it was wrong and you want to repay them

  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Whatever money they want, pay it... and hope they still don't go to the cops. Borrow money from friends and family if you have to.

    Go find a new job.

  • MetroidZoidMetroidZoid Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    My fear for Absolute is that if he (she?) goes to the manager, lump sum of cash in hand, and says "here", that the owner (who, as it's been stated, is already extorting him / her) can easily say "It's not enough" and down we go on the slippery slope.

    If it were me, I would quit the job. I can't decide if it would be better to go to the cops, or wait until they come to you. I'm leaning towards go to cops. This also means that the owner has to have evidence for every dollar he claims you have stolen. Then see where things proceed from there.

    Also, getting a lawyer would seem highly advisable right now, but (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong), you'd be paying him for consultation now, which you probably can't afford now, but if you wait until you have a case against you, then the state / county would provide defense for you.

    If anything, it was a stupid move, but at least you've managed to man up and admit it, and sound like you're willing to face the punishment. Just don't be so willing that you'll let someone like the owner push you into a corner.

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  • DarkSymphonyDarkSymphony Registered User
    edited March 2009
    you could simplify your options as far as you can until you find the best sounding base answer. Such as:

    -pay the money owed and have a higher % chance of success against charges being filed.
    or
    -don't pay the money and face the charges by default.

    both situations could potentially end with

    -cooperate with the cops and possibly uncover the extortion that was being played out?

  • AnteCantelopeAnteCantelope Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Is it really extortion? It sounds fair to me to demand what was stolen to be returned. If she says "you stole $200, please return that money" I don't see what she's doing that's illegal.

    I'd probably record the conversation when you give the money to her, so that if she does go to the cops anyway, you can say that you paid it back, and have proof that she accepted it as fair. Make sure that you tell her she is being recorded, otherwise it's illegal.

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  • PolloDiabloPolloDiablo Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    This really doesn't sound like extortion. She just wants back the money you lifted. I think the owner's within her rights.

    Just pay back whatever you owe, and if you're very apologetic about it she might let you off the hook. Getting fired these days is bad enough as it is.

    Be excellent to each other you stupid cunts.
  • NocturneNocturne Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Is it really extortion? It sounds fair to me to demand what was stolen to be returned. If she says "you stole $200, please return that money" I don't see what she's doing that's illegal.

    I'd probably record the conversation when you give the money to her, so that if she does go to the cops anyway, you can say that you paid it back, and have proof that she accepted it as fair. Make sure that you tell her she is being recorded, otherwise it's illegal.

    The recording thing sounds like a horrible idea. If done incorrectly, it could turn out very bad legally. If done correctly, it still makes you seem like a complete douche.

    Surely there is some sort of contract that could be drafted and signed by both parties verifying the amount paid.

  • eternalbleternalbl Registered User
    edited March 2009
    Just out of curiosity, what is a smaller afternoon?

    Like less customers?

    Spoiler:
  • Zombie NirvanaZombie Nirvana Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I don't think it is extortion. OP basically committed credit card fraud and the store will need to absorb charge-backs from the customers through Mastercard/Visa whoever, assuming they do right and notify them that the OP stole their money.

  • MetroidZoidMetroidZoid Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Absolute does have a right to see the receipts that show how much he owes the company, correct? I think it'd be entirely reasonable to contact the owner, apologize (you've pretty much admitted guilt buy saying you'll leave, this will maybe soften the blow if anything at all), and ask for a specific number of how much you must reimburse the company. Phrase this as you will so it doesn't sound like you're haggling with the owner.

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  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    This really doesn't sound like extortion. She just wants back the money you lifted. I think the owner's within her rights.

    Just pay back whatever you owe, and if you're very apologetic about it she might let you off the hook. Getting fired these days is bad enough as it is.

    Is it the owners money though?

    This is where I keep getting stuck.

    The way I am reading it the dude was lifting the cash from the customers by increasing the amount he was "tipped" it's not the owner he was stealing from.

    How is the owner going to give the money back?

  • JHunzJHunz Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Blaket wrote: »
    This really doesn't sound like extortion. She just wants back the money you lifted. I think the owner's within her rights.

    Just pay back whatever you owe, and if you're very apologetic about it she might let you off the hook. Getting fired these days is bad enough as it is.

    Is it the owners money though?

    This is where I keep getting stuck.

    The way I am reading it the dude was lifting the cash from the customers by increasing the amount he was "tipped" it's not the owner he was stealing from.

    How is the owner going to give the money back?
    With the same credit card information they used to charge it in the first place?

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  • AnteCantelopeAnteCantelope Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Blaket wrote: »
    This really doesn't sound like extortion. She just wants back the money you lifted. I think the owner's within her rights.

    Just pay back whatever you owe, and if you're very apologetic about it she might let you off the hook. Getting fired these days is bad enough as it is.

    Is it the owners money though?

    This is where I keep getting stuck.

    The way I am reading it the dude was lifting the cash from the customers by increasing the amount he was "tipped" it's not the owner he was stealing from.

    How is the owner going to give the money back?

    Well, if it was taken from their customer cards, it should be a simple matter to add some credit to their account, I think. I'm pretty sure that it's not been taken from credit cards, but from a sort of loyalty card, right? So the owner could put money back on that easily enough.

    And about my earlier comment, recording the conversation may not be the best way to do it, but I think that the OP should get some sort of written agreement that charges won't be pressed if he pays the money back. Recording the conversation seemed like the simplest way to do it, and as long as his boss is fully aware that he's recording it, there should be no problem.

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  • InvisibleInvisible Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I think you guys are overthinking. What the manager plans to do with the money is important, but right now he's in a spot where it doesn't matter. Whether he is ultimately exonerated or not because of the actions of the manager (it's sort of blackmail, sort of not depending on what the manager does with the money), it will still cause a headache, legal fees probably greater than just paying back the money and if convicted it effectively screws him over for the rest of his life.

    Get the manager to draw up a contract that you both have a copy of, pay back what you can (most likely they'll either work out a payment plan or just say what you have will cover it) and just be glad you don't work for a corporate store, because they would have had the cops come and haul you in the second they even thought you'd stolen something.

  • exoplasmexoplasm Registered User
    edited March 2009
    What ever you do, do not say a word about it to the police. If they get involved you need to shut up and lawyer up. I'm not saying this to be anti-cop, seriously, no good ever comes from saying anything to the police when you are accused of anything. It can only hurt your case.

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  • Smug DucklingSmug Duckling Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Medopine wrote: »
    cooperate with your manager

    if she goes to the cops, and they come to talk to you, admit what you did up front and tell them that you know it was wrong and you want to repay them

    Bad advice. Even if you think you've committed a crime, don't admit to anything to the police. They won't usually drop charges because you're sorry. The only thing you could possibly do is incriminate yourself. If the police come and talk to you, lawyer up.

    EDIT: To clarify, I don't mean that you should lie. Just don't say anything incriminating to a police officer or court ever. This is why the 5th amendment exists.

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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Medopine wrote: »
    cooperate with your manager

    if she goes to the cops, and they come to talk to you, admit what you did up front and tell them that you know it was wrong and you want to repay them

    Bad advice. Even if you think you've committed a crime, don't admit to anything to the police. They won't usually drop charges because you're sorry. The only thing you could possibly do is incriminate yourself. If the police come and talk to you, lawyer up.

    EDIT: To clarify, I don't mean that you should lie. Just don't say anything incriminating to a police officer or court ever. This is why the 5th amendment exists.

    Yeah, you never admit to jack shit until after they offer to drop charges or offer reduced sentence in exchange for that admission. The second you confess to any kind of crime, you lose leverage. Leverage that you need.



    Aside from that, people need to read the OP. From the sound of it, these "tips" were coming off of prepaid gift cards, so "just look up the cardholder information" is not going to work. These things are basically cash.

    At which point the owner/manager is extorting him in order to keep their mouth shut, which is illegal. They have no feasible way to reimburse the customers, nor do I believe that have any intention of doing so. This is exactly why this arrangement is illegal...if he committed a crime (he did) it is the job of the courts to work out a method of reimbursement, if any, to the victims (who are the customers, not the employer...he did not steal one dime from the employer).

    Shady, shady, shady.

    If only this was like the movies, where you can contact the DA/police and offer to help them nail the owner for extortion in exchange for a "pass" (in the form of some cupcake punishment) for what you did. But no, this is the real world where instead you're more likely to wind up getting fucked both ways like a set of Chinese fingercuffs.


    EDIT: Basically, and I'll admit I'm no lawyer, it seems like any time somebody who is not the victim catches you in a crime, then asks for money not to report it, you are no longer the only criminal. Doesn't it seem like the customers you stole from should be the ones to decide if they want to press charges? This applies even if they were credit card transactions, only then you've got card issuers/merchant services making that decision as well.

    Spoiler:
  • PaperPrittPaperPritt Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I was basically told that they had been wondering why my afternoons were so much smaller than the other people's for awhile now, and after printing out all the transactions they noticed that there were tips on almost all of the gift card transactions, and that they were large tips

    Right so...they were large tips on gift card transactions.... and that proves .. what? Also do NOT pay any money to your boss. It's been said before, you did NOT steal from your employer. You owe him nothing. Bid him the best of luck pressing charges on tips on prepaid cards.

    You fucked up, but that does grant him any power over you. He may like to think so, but that's not how it works.

  • AnteCantelopeAnteCantelope Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    mcdermott wrote: »
    Aside from that, people need to read the OP. From the sound of it, these "tips" were coming off of prepaid gift cards, so "just look up the cardholder information" is not going to work. These things are basically cash.

    The store I work in has a set-up that sounds pretty similar, and it would be an easy task for the manager to reimburse any customers who lost money through that set-up. I don't know if this guy's store uses the same thing, but it might be possible for the manager to easily reimburse all the customers, without even needing to tell the customers what happened.

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  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Yuck. Absolute, you suck.

    That said, go to this meeting with cash-in-hand, as much as you can get together. This does not sound like extortion, and no matter what the problems may be with a theoretical cash exchange this is your best bet to keep law enforcement and the courts out of this. You really can't afford to assume that you're going to be more fucked by trying to repay. I mean, what's the other option? Getting arrested?

    I believe in the general decency of the human race, especially small-business owners who are barely scraping by right now anyway. The owner doesn't want to incur costs of moving this through courts or getting authorities involved.

    This is important: You stole from your employer.

    Meet with her and bring cash. Try to work something out without revealing that you have cash. You may be able to walk away with only a slap-on-the-wrist of losing your job. The right thing to do here is to return the money to the owner, regardless of if we, here, understand where it will go afterwords. Bottom line is that you messed up, big, and one-on-one face-to-face with the owner is your best shot of getting out of this with the least amount of lasting damage.

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  • Captain VashCaptain Vash Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Yuck. Absolute, you suck.

    Meet with her and bring cash. Try to work something out without revealing that you have cash. You may be able to walk away with only a slap-on-the-wrist of losing your job. The right thing to do here is to return the money to the owner, regardless of if we, here, understand where it will go afterwords. Bottom line is that you messed up, big, and one-on-one face-to-face with the owner is your best shot of getting out of this with the least amount of lasting damage.
    I don't like this advice at all.

    As much as I don't like you for being a thief, good points have been made in this thread so far.

    a) You did not steal directly from your employer, as far as the law is concerned you've stolen from the customers of the establishment which means that the owner of said establishment cannot prosecute you on charges of theft, as you have not stolen anything from her.

    b) As a decent human being I see and understand the notion of returning what has been stolen; however we have to consider the fact that we don't know whether this is going back to the people it came from or if it's going into the owner's pocket. this fact is important and needs to be cleared up by the op right away if any more intelligent advice is to be given.

    c) A few very important suggestions have been made so far.

    c.1
    Yeah, you never admit to jack shit until after they offer to drop charges or offer reduced sentence in exchange for that admission. The second you confess to any kind of crime, you lose leverage. Leverage that you need.

    c.2
    The recording thing sounds like a horrible idea. If done incorrectly, it could turn out very bad legally. If done correctly, it still makes you seem like a complete douche.
    Surely there is some sort of contract that could be drafted and signed by both parties verifying the amount paid.

    c.3 If you go down the route of paying the money back;
    Get the manager to draw up a contract that you both have a copy of, pay back what you can (most likely they'll either work out a payment plan or just say what you have will cover it) and just be glad you don't work for a corporate store, because they would have had the cops come and haul you in the second they even thought you'd stolen something.

    Again I'm not a lawyer or anything but having seen and dealt with several legal battles involving theft and I think these are points that should be emphasized. (shared ownership of a show horse in dispute; a drug addict stole a good deal of money from me; client of mine stealing from my business)

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Do not pay money, this is extortion. They have to file a claim with the police and then prove you did it in court. Granted what you did was illegal, but the boss may not have the grounds to push it, so much as inform the owners to get their money back and press charges.

    Be prepared for a criminal trial.

    Paying the money out of pocket is probably a pretty stupid thing to do, unless this gets swept under the carpet and you sign a paper saying you've paid back in full everything you pocketed extra and that there will be no repercussions from the owner or no more liability from the clients to sue you. You'll probably get sued anyways because I'm not even sure the enforceability of that.

  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It's not extortion if they are just asking you to pay what you actually owe in leu of a criminal or civil complaint.

    Think of it this way--a kid is playing baseball and hits a ball through a neighbor's window. Neighbor goes to kid's parents and says, "Pay me the cost of repairing my window, or I'm going to sue you for trespass." That's not extortion, that's just a contract to fix his window in return for him not suing you to fix his window.

    If you stole money, and they are asking you to pay it back, it's not extortion to threaten a suit or calling the police if you don't pay back the money you owe.

  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    RUNN1NGMAN wrote: »
    If you stole money, and they are asking you to pay it back, it's not extortion to threaten a suit or calling the police if you don't pay back the money you owe.

    Honestly, the way I understand the situation the OP charged the customer x dollars for the giftcard, rang it up as x - tip dollars on the till and pocketed the "tip" portion, right?

    Don't try to be a hero. Try to work something out with the owner, get proof in writing etc. if you can. You really don't want theft from an employer on your record and if you can make a payment arrangement to keep this off the books you'll be thankful for the rest of your employed life. I know that I don't hire anyone who was involved in any sort of criminal proceedings, theft being a huge red flag. If it gets on your record you're pretty much relegated to some crummy jobs for quite some time. This is nothing to be taken lightly, as no one wants to live on minimum wage for years on end. And that's all assuming you can find another job after this.

    This is all in the assumption that the owner is actually giving you a chance. You have nothing to lose by showing up, speaking to the owner and seeing what she wants. If it's reasonable and you have it on paper, do it.

    The flip-side is that if there's any tomfoolery you need to lawyer up and quick.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Yes, show up, but there is probably an almost guarantee of "pay me an extra $ to keep this quiet, you don't want it on your record".

  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    bowen wrote: »
    Yes, show up, but there is probably an almost guarantee of "pay me an extra $ to keep this quiet, you don't want it on your record".

    I choose to have more faith in humanity than that, but that's just me. I severely doubt there will be any extortion involved. As someone who has worked extensively with independent retail management, her first goal is more along the lines of "How do I get this asswipe out of my livelihood for good?" not "Oh, man! How can I compound and implicate myself in an illegal situation by making a small profit on the side?"

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  • PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User
    edited March 2009
    bowen wrote: »
    Yes, show up, but there is probably an almost guarantee of "pay me an extra $ to keep this quiet, you don't want it on your record".

    I choose to have more faith in humanity than that

    You poor, deluded old fool. :P

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Also true, not like you can't report it to the police for extortion. ;)

  • iTunesIsEviliTunesIsEvil Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    My concern with paying the money back to the store, without involving The Law (TM) would be that the money wasn't taken from the store. The money was being taken from customers.

    Even if the money is paid back to the shop, individuals were still defrauded out of money on these cards, right? Lets say even if the money, once paid back to the shop, is reapplied to these gift-cards. All it takes is for one customer to realize their balance has changed, for them to confront the shop, and then everyone's in some shit. You that committed the fraud originally, and the shop that tried to hide the fraudulent tip amounts would both probably be in for a treat from law-enforcement.

    With the shop possibly putting their own asses on the line here (if they are caught trying to cover the fraudulent charges that have already happened) I would not trust them to not hold you accountable if shit goes down and a customer wants to make this an issue.

    I think you need to lawyer-up and I think the shop probably needs to lawyer-up. But then again, I'm an overly-cautious guy sometimes.

  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    RUNN1NGMAN wrote: »
    If you stole money, and they are asking you to pay it back, it's not extortion to threaten a suit or calling the police if you don't pay back the money you owe.

    Honestly, the way I understand the situation the OP charged the customer x dollars for the giftcard, rang it up as x - tip dollars on the till and pocketed the "tip" portion, right?

    Don't try to be a hero. Try to work something out with the owner, get proof in writing etc. if you can. You really don't want theft from an employer on your record and if you can make a payment arrangement to keep this off the books you'll be thankful for the rest of your employed life. I know that I don't hire anyone who was involved in any sort of criminal proceedings, theft being a huge red flag. If it gets on your record you're pretty much relegated to some crummy jobs for quite some time. This is nothing to be taken lightly, as no one wants to live on minimum wage for years on end. And that's all assuming you can find another job after this.

    This is all in the assumption that the owner is actually giving you a chance. You have nothing to lose by showing up, speaking to the owner and seeing what she wants. If it's reasonable and you have it on paper, do it.

    The flip-side is that if there's any tomfoolery you need to lawyer up and quick.

    Well, there's the argument that the money belongs to the customers who OP stole from, and the owner is in a much better position to return the money to the customers somehow so it belongs to him (or at least belongs to him more than to the OP). Maybe the owner plans on offering everyone a free cup of coffee one morning, or something like that. The main point is, the OP isn't really in a position to be questioning what the owner will do with the money once he has it. The OP has zero legitimate claim to it, and most property experts would say the shopowner has some legitimate claim, if only so that he can hold onto it until customers come forward asking for it back.

  • AlphariusAlpharius Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It's a strange one - you actually stole from the customers, not from the business. So if the manager takes the money, then the business will be stealing from the customers.

    What you did is wrong, and I am therefore reticent to help you get away with it, but since you haven't stolen from the business itself then they can't press charges against you, and they can't find the customers to persuade them to press charges against you.

    Therefore it seems that a possible route is to claim that the tips are real; then point out that even if they weren't real tips, then the business demanding the money would effectively be theft from the customers. Finally point out that no money was stolen from the business, therefore they cannot press any charges.

    also I am not a lawyer
    also this doesn't work if they do have a method for notifying the customers, who could then press charges.

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  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal Flo-ridaRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Don't give a dime to your employer. It wasn't their money, and they will likely make no attempt to repay the customers or recharge the cards.

    If they *do*, then you give the money to the person at the level who would actually do that, which is probably a regional thing, and you get a signed statement specifying that no action will be taken as a result of repayment.

  • iTunesIsEviliTunesIsEvil Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Jasconius wrote: »
    Don't give a dime to your employer. It wasn't their money, and they will likely make no attempt to repay the customers or recharge the cards.

    If they *do*, then you give the money to the person at the level who would actually do that, which is probably a regional thing, and you get a signed statement specifying that no action will be taken as a result of repayment.
    My concern would be that the employer doesn't have the ability to grant him any variety of immunity. It's not the business that was stolen from, or at least that's not how I'm interpreting this.

  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It's not the business that was stolen from, or at least that's not how I'm interpreting this.

    This is half-right.

    Customers were defrauded of money by an employee of the business. The business is responsible for sorting this out and frankly, what the owner does with this theoretical payment is none of the OP's concern as long as he gets a signed and dated statement that no charges would be brought. There is no chance that these customers will band together and bring charges, if charges are going to be brought, it will be by the owner to cover the business' interests.

    For the love of everything holy, go to this meeting. Best-case is you can escape without law enforcement getting involved, screwing your record. Worst-case is you're in the same position you're in now: up shit creek without a paddle.

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