The year 2011 was another banner year for employee theft in the United States, experiencing only a slight drop in frequency from the pace set in 2010, says a new report on the subject.

The 2011 Marquet Report On Embezzlement by Marquet International Ltd. examined 473 major embezzlement cases active in the US in 2011 -- those with more than $100,000 in reported losses.

According to the report, the number of major embezzlements dropped only a slight 2% from 2010. Vermont topped the list of states with highest risk for loss due to embezzlement in 2011. Vermont was followed by Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Montana, Virginia, Iowa and Idaho. Other results include:

  • In 2011, non-profits, including religious organizations, experienced the most embezzlement cases of all industry categories, behind only financial institutions;
  • The average loss was about $750,000 for 2011;
  • The most common embezzlement scheme in 2011 involved the forgery or unauthorized issuance of company checks;
  • Nearly three-quarters of the incidents in 2011 were committed by employees who held finance & accounting positions;
  • The average scheme lasted nearly 5 years;
  • Gambling continues to appear to be a motivating factor in some embezzlement cases; and,
  • Nearly two-thirds of all incidents involved female perpetrators in 2011.

The study also reported some conclusions Marquet has derived by combining the data from past four years:

  • Perpetrators typically begin their embezzlement schemes in their early 40s;
  • By a significant margin, embezzlers are most likely to be individuals who hold financial positions within organizations;
  • The Financial Services industry suffers the greatest losses from major embezzlements;
  • Vermont, Virginia and Florida are among the states with the highest risk for loss due to embezzlement;
  • Women are more likely to embezzle on a large scale than men;
  • Men embezzle significantly more than women per scheme;
  • Gambling is a clear motivating factor in driving some major embezzlement cases; and,
  • Only about 5 percent of major embezzlers have a prior criminal history.