It is difficult to imagine theft by employees in a small design firm. After all, the administrative folks are generally nice, competent people who tirelessly take care of the day-to-day functioning of the firm—ordering supplies, paying invoices and invoicing clients.

But it is easy to picture how the principal of a fast-paced firm could focus more on design documents than the Quickbooks program. This could prove to be a costly situation.


One of Maloney & Company, LLC’s clients in New Jersey had to make a fraud claim under the Employee Dishonesty portion of its Business Owner’s Policy for $10,000 of theft. Turns out some of the checks written to the firm’s vendors were to pay for the part-time bookkeeper’s own phone bills.

And here’s one that could have been lifted from the latest Harry Potter: the principal of a Connecticut architectural firm was routinely presented with checks to sign by the firm’s bookkeeper. The checks were addressed to legitimate vendors—in disappearing ink. When the ink disappeared, very different payees were written in.

Or imagine the outrage of the widow of one elderly solo practitioner when she learned that the bookkeeper was dipping into the company’s banking account for her own expenses even during the period that that elderly architect was not drawing his own payroll so that he could pay her salary and other office expenses.