Monday, January 23, 2012

Nonprofit Volunteer Accused Of Embezzling

Volunteers are great help for any nonprofit, but one California-based nonprofit is dealing with an issue that highlights the need for strong vetting of potential workers.

Elizabeth Lower is accused of embezzling around $25,000 from Empty Cradle, according to a report from Channel 10 News San Diego.  A member of the organization, which helps families deal with the loss of children, spoke to the station about the situation, which took the nonprofit by surprise.  Lower first came to Empty Cradle asking for help after her 6-month old daughter died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  Although she was struggling with the loss, she wanted to volunteer for the organization.

There were no red flags to be found at first.  It wasn't until a year ago that Empty Cradle noticed something was wrong.  They found they were unable to get in touch with Lower after they found an unpaid bill.  Upon closer inspection, they found they had lost between $25,000 and $30,000 from their accounts.  Just like that, all of their money was gone.

Lower was arrested at her apartment last Thursday and will be arraigned today.  In the mean time, Empty Cradle is left only being able to perform its core services.  The case highlights how careful organizations have to be when hiring new volunteers or employees.  It wasn't that long ago that the Girl Scouts of America Greater New York affiliate went through a similar situation when their finance director pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from the organization.

Read the full story on Channel 10 News San Diego.

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