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Cash Larceny

Cash larceny, also known as cash theft, is a fraudulent act that involves the unauthorized misappropriation or theft of cash assets from an organization. It is a form of occupational fraud wherein employees manipulate or exploit internal controls and procedures to unlawfully obtain cash for personal gain. Cash larceny is a serious concern for businesses of all sizes, as it can have significant financial repercussions and impact the overall integrity of financial statements.


Cash larceny typically occurs after the completion and recording of a legitimate transaction, where an employee with access to cash steals a portion of the funds. This type of fraud is distinct from other forms of financial misconduct, such as cash skimming or fraudulent disbursements, as it specifically targets the cash after it has been recorded in the books.

There are several methods commonly employed by perpetrators of cash larceny. One prevalent technique is the alteration or manipulation of sales records or receipts, often done in collusion with a customer or through fraudulent refunds. By doctoring these documents, the perpetrator can create a false impression of reduced sales while pocketing the stolen cash.

Another method involves the unauthorized removal of cash directly from the register or cash drawer. This can be achieved through various means, including false voids, improper use of discounts, or simply pocketing cash during a cash-handling process. In some instances, employees may also resort to tampering with the physical security measures, such as safes or lockboxes, to gain unauthorized access to stored cash.

Detection and Prevention:

Detecting cash larceny can be challenging, as it often leaves no obvious trace in financial records. However, certain red flags and proactive measures can help organizations mitigate the risk of such fraudulent activities:

  1. Segregation of Duties: Implementing appropriate segregation of duties ensures that no single individual has sole control over the cash handling process, reducing the opportunity for theft.
  2. Regular Reconciliation: Conducting regular and surprise reconciliations of cash registers, financial records, and bank statements can help identify discrepancies and potential instances of cash larceny.
  3. Enhancing Security Measures: Employing robust physical measures, such as surveillance cameras, cash handling policies, and secure storage systems, helps deter potential perpetrators and increases the chances of detection.
  4. Employee Training: Educating employees on the organization’s fraud policies and providing awareness about the consequences and indicators of cash larceny can create a strong deterrent effect.

In the event that cash larceny is suspected or discovered, organizations should have a clearly defined protocol to address the situation. This may involve notifying appropriate management or authorities, conducting internal investigations, and implementing corrective measures to avoid future occurrences.

Understanding and addressing the risk of cash larceny is crucial for maintaining the financial health and integrity of any organization. Implementation of robust internal controls, coupled with proactive fraud detection measures, can help detect and prevent cash larceny, thereby safeguarding the financial well-being of a business.