When a trusted employee embezzled a hefty sum from Dr. Donald Lewis’ dental practice, the oral surgeon was destroyed financially, professionally, and psychologically, he recalls.
That was 20 years ago. Since then, his Cleveland-based practice has regained solid footing and he’s on a mission to share his story with other demists. His workshop, ” Doctor, Your Check Has Bounced Again !,” is helping new dentists and experienced practitioners learn to protect their practice from embezzlement and fraud.
Like many dentists, Dr. Lewis focused on his patients’ needs and entrusted staff to oversee the inner workings of his office.
When a trusted employee revealed that a colleague was “dipping their hand into the cookie jar,” Dr. Lewis began to investigate.
At the time, there were few resources to offer on embezzlement and fraud, so Dr. Lewis turned to the local police, who helped him launch a criminal investigation . The employee was convicted for grand theft and received a suspended sentence of SIX
months with five years probation with full and real restitution. Dr. Lewis also sued the former employee in civil court and won.
“Afterward, l began to ask, ‘why me?’~ Dr. Lewis says. He thought about how to help other dentists avoid his nightmare. He began to research white-collar crime and now presents workshops all over the country, explaining how dcntists can protect themselves against fraud and embezzlement.
“I want people to think “big picture’ instead of ‘little office,” he says. “The person stealing from you doesn’t have to be in your office every day. ~ Embezzlers call take thousands of dollars a day, according to Dr. Lewis. He’s consulted on several cases that involve more than S1 million.
His full-day workshop covers topics ranging from computer fraud and embezzlement to the prosecution of a perpetrator.
“My goal is to create an awareness of how the criminal mind works,” Dr. Lewis says. “If new dentists establish controls when they enter practice, they will be better protected in the long run, Dr. Lewis says.
” It’s not a matter of trust,” Dr. Lewis says . ” It’s a matter of verification. A dental practice is a business and should be run as such. ~
Feedback has been voluminous. After attending his workshop, participants call him with questions and discoveries of improprieties in their office. The workshop has helped uncover countless instances of embezzlement and fraud.