If my boss is charging customers credit cards without their permission and I know about it could I get in trouble?

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If my boss is charging customers credit cards without their permission and I know about it could I get in trouble?

I work at a small business. Many of our customers have a credit card on file. Here’s the problem, when my boss needs cash, he will, without the customer’s authorization, run a charge on their credit card. But it’s not for a small amount, it ranges from $3000-$12,000. I found out about it when I overheard the bookkeeper questioning him about it. When the customer finds out and calls in hysterical, he blames it on “his girls”, meaning me and the front desk clerk, saying they must have made a mistake, and writes them a check to make it right. Could I face charges for knowing?

Asked on January 12, 2012 under Criminal Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Merely knowing of a crime does not make you liable. However:

1) A prosecutor could conclude that if it is "blamed" on you and you do not come forward at that point to correct that misapprehension, you are actually acting as his collaborator or accomplice (i.e. intentionally taking the blame for a mistake, to deflect further investigation) and therefore face liability.

2) It's also possible that if someone reports this to the police, your boss will try to blame it on you to the authorities--and he may have (if he's smart as well as criminal) have prepared false paperwork, etc. to show this.

In short, while technically you would not be liable for merely knowing, there are circumstances in which you could end up facing criminal (and possibly civil--e.g. you could be sued) liability. You may wish to come forward to the authorities about this.


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