Embezzlement. Forgery. Fraud — all crimes long associated with men in positions of influence in the workplace. But white-collar crime has gotten a makeover. One Lexington lawyer says 100 percent of the embezzlement cases he’s defended in the last five years have been committed by women, known as pink-collar criminals. In fact, records from the past 15 years show that women in the Rockbridge area have stolen at least $2.2 million from business owners, churches and even elderly family members.

It’s no coincidence that so many defendants are women. While women are still trying to work their way into top jobs, they are often hired as bookkeepers, office managers or bank tellers — positions where they handle or oversee the funds of a business or other organization. And in small communities, where there is little oversight and lots of trust, women who begin taking money might find that they can continue to steal for years without getting caught. Some may be fueled by greed, others by hardship, but the bottom line remains the same: Embezzlement is a violation of trust. Embezzlers are the co-workers, friends, even babysitters for the very business owners whose bank accounts they wipe out. Why are there so many cases of pink-collar crime in the Rockbridge area? What motivates these women to cross that line, and how do communities handle their cases when they do?In the last 10 years, two-thirds of the felony embezzlement cases in Lexington and Rockbridge County have included female defendants.

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