Since 1999, according to the police report, she was able to walk away with an average of $500 a month, because cross checking procedures were not observed.
Thanks to Trent Stamp's Take for linking to a couple of stories from Redding, California about the operations manager of a local Salvation Army thrift story accused of embezzling $98,000 over a period of eight years. When Virginia Moye closed out the registers at the end of the day, she would ring up an additional void and pocket that amount of cash from the till. The police report claims that she was doing this since 1999.
The report continues that there was a requirement that two managers check the day's sales and paperwork, but that wasn't done. Last March, another worker noticed an unexplained void, and when more followed the internal auditors were called in. They found $87,985 in unsupported voids and refunds between 2002 and 2007 on days when Ms. Moye was working (and presumably closing out the register).
What's obvious here to me is that Salvation Army has a procedure manual that wasn't followed, which made the thefts possible. I think Trent Stamp is completely off track suggesting that this might not have happened if the Salvation Army filed a Form 990. Not realistic. This $2 billion organization is already audited (see page 16 of this PDF file of the 2005 annual report) and even has its own internal audit department. Yes, there was a lapse here (in a small town in northern California), but no organization is immune to fraud. And, in this recent story about local government fraud in Oregon notes, financial auditors' job is to verify financial statements, not find embezzlement. An agency's managment has to keep tabs on everyday spending.
I certainly agree that there is no reason to exempt church organizations from the financial accountability requirements of comparably sized secular charities, but there's no need to employ bogus arguments to make that case.