I’m having a hard time deciding where to start this story. Do we begin with the fact that an accountant is accused of embezzling $8.5 million from a well-known aviation brand? Or is the heart of the story the fact that Gulfstream, a subsidiary of the huge General Dynamics, hired a finance director without even a quick check into his background?
Marvin Caukin applied to Gulfstream in 2000. Had anyone done a quick criminal record search they would have discovered that he had recently completed a three year stint in federal prison for stealing $2.4 million from his previous employer. Employee theft - never a good thing.
The Gulfstream job application asked if he had been convicted of a felony within the last 7 years. Caukin said no. He got the job. He was fired last May when the lie was discovered. Now he is charged with identity theft, conspiracy to launder money and mail fraud.
According to the FBI, Caukin set up an intricate scheme that had friends and family members setting up fake companies. The phony businesses would bill Gulfstream for “services” and Caukin approved the payments. So far, Caukin is the only one who’s been charged.
How does someone like this get one money handling job after another without anyone catching on until it’s too late? The answer might be the ubiquitous “Good ‘Ol Boy Network.” Executives know each other—at least they think they do. When a job opens up it’s easy to say, “Joe has been with XYZ forever. He knows his stuff, let’s bring him in.”
So why no background checks? Caukin was hired in 2000, you would think by then companies were screening their hires. The truth is, large scale background screening didn’t really take hold until after 9-11. Even then, the checks were mainly done on rank and file workers because that’s where companies experienced the most turnover, the area where someone up to no good might try to blend in. At that time, most companies didn’t see the need to check the C-Suite. But times have changed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 70% off all embezzlers caught in 2012 held financial positions.
If you are not screening those at the top of your organization, you need to start. The screening is a little different than what you would conduct for those taking entry level jobs. At the entry level, employers are usually most concerned with criminal, employment or driving history. As you move up the ladder an applicant’s education, employment references, potential civil litigation, lien and credit history should also be checked. These components are essential even when you are promoting from within. The higher the position, the more intense the standard background checks should be. There have been many stories over the years about it taking decades and several promotions before resume lies are finally uncovered.
Your screening partner can help you decide which screening tools are appropriate for your needs, and can also answer questions about continual screening of current employees.
Employment Background Investigations is a technology driven leader in domestic and global pre-employment background checks, drug testing, occupational health screening and I-9 compliance. We specialize in development, implementation and management of customized employment screening programs for large and multi-national clients. We are dedicated to information security. EBI is the only NAPBS Accredited background screening company to hold both an ISO 27001:2005 certification for information security and an ISO 9001:2008 certification for Quality Management.