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The Difference Between Embezzlement and Fraud

Embezzlement Attorney Serving Doylestown & Surrounding Areas

In the world of criminal law, terms like embezzlement and fraud are often mentioned. While both involve deceptive practices for personal gain, they are distinct crimes with different elements and legal consequences. At Applebaum & Associates, we specialize in both criminal defense law and white collar crimes, and we’re here to clarify the difference between embezzlement and fraud. 

Understanding Embezzlement & Fraud 


Embezzlement is the act of wrongfully taking or misusing funds or property entrusted to you by another person, typically within a professional relationship as an internal breach of trust. Examples of embezzlement can include the creation of false invoices for services that were never provided, the altering of bookkeeping records, or the misuse of client funds. Embezzlement can be committed by anyone within the company, including upper management, accountants, and controllers. 


Fraud involves deliberate deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain. It can occur in various forms, such as credit card fraud, identity theft, or insurance fraud, and is not necessarily confined to internal relationships. Other examples of fraud can include loan or mortgage fraud, Ponzi schemes, and tax refund fraud. Unlike someone accused of embezzlement, where they were previously entrusted with funds, someone accused of fraud never had any claim to manage the funds they stole. 

Key Differences Between Embezzlement and Fraud

Relationship to the Victim

Embezzlement: This crime requires a relationship of trust between the victim and the perpetrator, such as an employer-employee relationship.

Fraud: No specific relationship is required; the crime may be committed by a stranger.

Intent and Method

Embezzlement: The focus is on the breach of trust rather than deception, although deception may be involved. 

Fraud: This crime centers on the deliberate act of deception, using false statements or actions to achieve financial gain.

Penalties For Embezzlement & Fraud

Understanding the legal consequences for both embezzlement and fraud is essential, as they differ significantly. The penalties for embezzlement depend on the value of the property taken and may include:

  • Jail or prison time
  • Fines
  • Restitution
  • Probation

Fraud penalties can be just as severe, varying based on the type and extent of the fraud committed:

  • Incarceration
  • Fines
  • Community service
  • Restitution

Embezzlement & Fraud Defense Strategies

At Applebaum & Associates, we provide custom defense strategies tailored to each individual case. Embezzlement defenses may include challenging the evidence, demonstrating a lack of intent, or proving consent from the owner. Fraud defense tactics include attacking the validity of the alleged false statements, questioning the intent to deceive, and demonstrating a lack of knowledge of the falsity. 

Contact The Top Embezzlement Attorney in Doylestown Today

Embezzlement and fraud are complex legal areas, and facing charges for either can be a daunting experience. Knowing the differences between these two crimes is essential, not only for personal knowledge but also for crafting a successful defense strategy.

If you or a loved one are facing embezzlement or fraud charges, you need legal representation that understands these charges. At Applebaum & Associates, our experienced criminal defense and personal injury lawyers are equipped to provide you with the legal support you need. Contact our Doylestown embezzlement attorney today for a free consultation. 

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