Back in my dental nursing days, I worked for a high-end city practice right near Liverpool Street Station in London. One morning I arrived to work early and as I opened the front door to walk in, I was met by two police officers, one on either side of our Practice Manager who was handcuffed. I could see my boss at the other end of the hallway, mouth open in shock, as our Practice Manager was marched away… never to be seen again. Not a scene I was expecting on a Monday morning!
It turned out that our Practice Manager (we’ll call her Hayley), who had only worked with us for six months, had been arrested for stealing thousands of pounds from TWO previous employers, which were both dental practices that she had managed. We found out that she had stolen the money by writing herself cheques, ordering expensive electronics online and she even called the bank and gained personal information while posing as one of the dentists she worked for – the list went on. She was terminated from both of her previous roles.
When Hayley applied for the job with us, she was delightful, smart and full of good ideas. We carried out the standard Police Check, it came back clear. She got the job!
What my boss should have done is gained references from her previous employers…..this would have given us a full picture of Hayley’s work ethics. We found out afterwards that the two practices that Hayley had worked for were still gathering evidence to have her arrested, so her crime had not been reported yet. Therefore, her Police Check came back clear.
My small fish story is nothing compared to big fish stories like the Commonwealth Bank employee who was fired (paywall) for blatantly stealing over $3,000 cash from a Sydney branch (it was all caught on camera). He was dismissed with three weeks’ pay and the incident was not reported to the Police. The employee then went on to log an unfair dismissal claim!
Let’s go Big-Game fish size with a Melbourne based Commonwealth Bank loan officer who perpetrated a $3.5 million fraud on the bank and spent it all on having an exceptionally good time! By exploiting weaknesses in the bank’s internal systems, the employee created fake loan accounts and went on to spend big, summed up by his quote “We had beautiful lunches. We had beautiful wines. We snorted coke – a lot of it. We met a lot of girls.” This incident was not reported to police, allowing the ex-employee to continue working in financial services.
The moral of this story is that not all instances of misconduct result in a criminal conviction, and background checking is more than just a police check and allows more of a complete picture of the candidate. We always recommend pairing a police check with (at least) reference checks or employment verifications.
So back to my dental nursing days – my boss went back through his finances and found that Hayley had stolen several hundred pounds by setting up a monthly direct debit straight into her account. She had just ordered herself the latest phone (a Nokia back then!), which hadn’t been delivered yet, so we could cancel the order – I feel we got away relatively unscathed! 🙂
Written by Layla Tilley, Design & Marketing Lead