David Harris lets us in on 3 ‘must-do’s’ that you can implement in your practice tomorrow in order to lessen your vulnerability, avoid initial hiring mistakes and protect yourself against fraud within your staff (and what to do if you suspect this). While listening to this podcast with Dr. John and David Harris of Properident you will learn how protect your business, staff, patients and family.
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“EP26: How to Catch Embezzlement and What to do Next; with Prosperidents David Harris” Transcript:
[music] Welcome to the Double Your Production Podcast with The Team Training Institute. The one place designed for dentists and their staff who want to grow their practices by following in the footsteps of those that have done it or in the trenches who know exactly what you’re going through. And now, your leaders. The stars of the podcast, Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs. [music]Good morning everybody, and welcome to this episode of the Double Your Production Podcast. I am so excited to be here today with David Harris of Prosperident. David is, I think, the world’s leading expert in protecting yourself from embezzlement and theft. And I’m really excited to hear what he has to say, and what are the things that we could do to help protect ourselves. So David, good morning. How are you?
Good. It’s great to be with you this morning.
And tell me. How did you get into this field?
Well, when you go to business school, and you learn about how to start a business. You create a business plan, and you do your market research, and you arrange your financing and all those things. I did none of that. In 1989, I had left my job. I was an investigator for a bank. I was sitting at home watching TV and thinking about my next career move, and I got a call from a guy who I’d been in high school with who is now a dentist. And he said, “I think my front-desk person’s stealing from me, and I have no one else to call.” So I really wasn’t doing much [laughter]. So I said, “I’ll come by tonight. And then after your office closes, and we’ll get to the bottom of this.” So I went over to his place. And again, this was 1989, so it was a pegboard office, which some of your audience might remember fondly. And–
Or not so fondly [laughter].
Well, and I found what she was doing, and we fired her. And the doctor promised to buy me dinner. That never ever happened, but who says you remember those things? And it kind of vanished from my mind. A couple of weeks later, I was going into my own dentist’s office for an appointment. And I was about to go in the office, and I looked through the glass door and sitting there at his front desk was the same woman who we had fired two weeks ago in the other office.
Well, what I said was a little bit less printable. But, yeah, it was a moment of panic. So I sprinted to a pay phone, and called the office, and got put through to the doctor on a pretext, And told him about why I wasn’t in his chair. And he asked me in a panicked voice, “What the hell do I do now?” And about a sentence and a half later he’d hired me. And by the time I finished on his practice a couple of other dentists had called me and that was it. I was in business.
Yeah. Off and running.
Yeah. And did it on my own for a while, and eventually, the company grew were we currently have about 25 people, and we only work with dentists. We don’t assist medical doctors or any other constituency. It is dentists only. And it’s turned into something pretty good.
So why are dentists such seemingly easy targets? It’s so common in our profession.
Yeah. It’s somewhere between common and ubiquitous, and where it sits in that continuum, it depends on who you talk to. I’ll say a couple of things. First of all, it happens in every business. I mean, Walmart loses a percentage of their revenue to pilfering as well. So it’s certainly not unique to dentists, but what I’ll say about dentists, in general, is that very few of them chose dentistry because of an unquenchable desire to be a business owner. For every dentist I’ve ever met, when you ask them what they like about being a dentist and what they don’t like, well, they like the patients. They like the work. They like the feeling when somebody looks in the mirror and says, “Wow. That looks great.” What do they hate? They hate dealing with staff. They hate running the place. They hate dealing with accounts receivable. So what I think creates some vulnerability for dentists is that when somebody comes along to them and says, “Look. I will take all the burden of running the place off your back so that you can practice clinical dentistry, and I’ll run the show,” they say, “Yes. I’ve won the lottery.” And the problem is that sometimes the person saying that means it, and sometimes there’s a hidden agenda, and distinguishing the two for somebody who really wants to get back in the operatory is difficult.
Yeah, for sure. I’ve always joked that pretty much everybody is stolen from. They just don’t really don’t know it. So we’re going to get to, in a little bit, how we can protect ourselves and what to do if we think we’re being stolen from. And the protecting ourselves, when we hire people, I think we have a responsibility to take care of them and protect them to some degree. And I’ve seen many times where people had no financial controls in their office at all, which is putting people, their employees, at risk of that bad moment, that place where someone is really desperate and they step out of that slippery slope when they take something. Is that kind of how it works, usually?
I won’t disagree with a couple of your premises. The first is that having financial controls is a lot better than not having them, and the second is that, you’re right, most dentists are kind of underdeveloped in that area. I won’t disagree with either of those comments. The only thing I’ll say though is that a lot of people’s approach to seeing how embezzlement happened is reactionary. So we have a part of our website called the Hall of Shame, and we profile over 500 embezzlers there, and it makes for some interesting reading. So I posted somebody on the Hall of Shame last week, and this is a case we’re working on now, and she just confessed to taking over half a million dollars. And when we posted it on our Facebook page and so on, there were several comments along the lines of– because the media reported some specific methodologies that were used. And the response of some people is, “Well, I don’t allow that in my office.” So just to make it more clear, and I can’t remember whether it was part of the facts said in this case or not, but let’s assume that somebody is stealing funds out of the bank deposit. What’s tempting for people to conclude is, well, if the doctor had only taken the money to the bank deposit herself instead of entrusting a staff member with it, she would not have been stolen from. Okay? That’s the sort of analytical framework that people apply. It’s flawed thinking. If I work for you and I’ve decided for various reasons that stealing from you is what I should be doing, I will spend a lot of time actively looking for the vulnerable area and how your practice runs. And I’m going to find what? I’m not going to have a lot of choices. So if you decided you’re going to take the bank deposit to the bank yourself, and stealing from that deposit had been my original plan, that does not convert me into a churchgoing choir boy.
It simply makes me an unfulfilled thief, and I’m going to keep looking. And I will find something that you do because you’re busy wielding a handpiece, and I’m the person running your office, so I will find a way. And to assume that, if we had simply blocked whatever modality somebody used, it would’ve stopped embezzlement? No. It’s a very oversimplified view of how embezzlers think.
Yeah. One of the things that I’m– such a painful experience for them just is, often, the person who embezzles– from my experience, often, the person who embezzles is the person who’s closest to the doctor, who’s the most trusted, who babysits their kids, and sits in the row in front of them in church, and go on and on and on. These, often, are people that are so close and so trusted.
Exactly. And there are two profiles of these. The first one is somebody who had no plan at the time they were hired to steal, which could’ve been 20 years ago. And sometime between then and now, something’s come along that’s made them decide that stealing is what they should be doing. And then you have the people– I call them serial embezzlers, and they get hired to the practice, and steal, and get caught, and get fired, and then go somewhere else and repeat. In the first case, these people get close to a dentist because that’s a natural thing that people working in small offices with shared problems do. In the second case, it’s much more calculating. And from the perspective of any embezzler, as soon as they can get their doctor to think, “You know what? I could not function without her. I would be in such trouble if she ever left me,” as soon as you can get somebody to think that about you, the amount you can steal undetected goes up. Sometimes it’s just a by-product of a long-term relationship. Sometimes it’s very deliberate on the part of the thief to say, “I need to kind of snuggle up to this dentist so that they can’t contemplate life without me,” and that will open their wall up much wider.
Yeah, and their heart as well. And it’s heartbreaking when there’s that type of theft. So do you want to share anything from your hall of shame? Any good stories or–?
All kinds. And I won’t take away your reader’s astonishment in doing a little bit of discovery there. A couple of things. We have what we refer to as a half-million-dollar club. So these are people who got $500,000 or more from their practice. We also have a million-dollar club which has seven members. So that’s a rather exclusive fraternity. They’re, I think, about 50 in the half-million-dollar club. Not quite as elite. Some of the embezzlers are, in one case, the daughter of the doctor. With some irregularity, we see doctors stealing from each other in a group practice, which surprises most dentists. I mean, they all tend to assume that somebody who shares their education and learned the same ethics that they did not would not steal. And really, this is a crime committed by team members, not doctors. And as I say, we typically have about 110 open cases at once. So that’s what we’re working on right now. Usually about somewhere between 7 and 10 of them involve other dentists.
Yeah. Wow. That is more than I thought it would be.
Well, especially when you consider that the majority of dentists practice solo. So the only place you can possibly have that kind of theft is in a group practice. So yeah, it happens more than perhaps people think. The other one that always surprises people is when a spouse embezzles.
Yeah. [inaudible] that. Yeah.
I work for my wife, who’s a dentist, as her office manager, and I’ve decided I’m going to leave her. So the next thing I do is I go see one of those horrible creatures called a divorce attorney. And the divorce attorney says to me, “So, David, your only source of income is your wife’s practice, right?” And I say, “Yes, that’s right.” “And, David, what do you think she’s going to do when you tell her that you’re leaving her?” And my answer would be, “Well, logically, she’s going to take me off the payroll.” So the attorney’s going to say to me, “I’m not going to tell you how to do this, but I’m going to tell you what you have to do. You need money under the mattress because, when you drop the bomb on your wife, you need to find a new place to live. You need to buy groceries and, not least important at all, you need to pay me, your bloodsucking divorce attorney [laughter].” So you can see where this is going.
Yes, I can.
And when we get that call from somebody who says, “Yeah, I’m being embezzled from, and I suspect my spouse,” the next question we ask is, “Well, how’s the state of your marriage?” And it may not have dawned on them yet, but the end of that part of their life is imminent.
Yeah. Yeah. Painful. So how about talking about a few of the things that dentists can do to protect themselves?
Sure. And when you read the dental literature on embezzlement – and there’s a fair body of it – what you tend to find are a lot of platitudes like, “You need to be more involved in the finances of your business.” Well, that’s a great concept, but it’s not an easy one to operationalize. I tend to give advice that’s a little more pointed. One thing that I’ll tell doctors is that they need to be much better at screening people before they hire them than they actually are. There’s a big cohort out there of people called serial embezzlers who have been fired somewhere, and they want to get hired where they can steal again because, of course, their lifestyle and their overt income are not going to match up.
So when the doctor’s interviewing one of these people, at the same time, they’re interviewing the doctor and saying, “Okay, how easy or hard is it going to be for me to do my stealing here?” We actually had one serial embezzler who has worked in over a probably 15-year period, 15 different practices, and stole from all of them. She was really good at getting hired. As a thief, she wasn’t that great, even with all her practice. I mean, she’d get caught fairly quickly. But she never had a problem walking into an office and walking out with a job so one place where there’s a lot of room for improvement is in hiring people. A lot of dentists do not do criminal record checks. And for the benefit of your audience one in four US adults, so that’s about 60 million people, have criminal records. If we don’t want to know whether the person in front of us is in that category or not that’s inviting bad things to happen.
For sure. Imagine if you hire somebody that’s on a sex offender list, for instance, is something that I’ve seen happen. I mean, you’re putting your patients at risk. You really have a responsibility to check out people before you hire them.
Your patients and your livelihood and your license and your staff. Yeah, there’s a huge risk with that. Another thing that astounds me is when dentists hire people they don’t drug test them.
I can not get a $12 an hour job at FedEx at delivering the stuff people buy on Amazon without having to pee in a bottle and yet I can get a job in virtually any dental office in the nation, which all have prescription pads sitting right there beside me without being drug tested. That makes zero sense. But the real place where dentists fall down in the hiring is speaking with former employers. And John let’s say that I got fired from my dental office job two weeks ago, and now I’m applying for a job with you. I know that if you call the person who just fired me, you’re not going to hear good things. So all I have to do – it’s very simple – I pretend I’m still working there, and I say, “Please don’t call my current employer because she does not know I’m leaving.” And you will nod your head and say, “Okay. I understand that.” And that call will never happen, and you’ll end up with a bag of tricks as an employee, and you could have prevented that hiring mistake. What I’d like your audience to say instead is when they’re confronted with the please don’t contact my current employer what I would say is, “I understand completely. I’m going to tell you that we do not hire anybody without speaking with their most recent employer, but it doesn’t have to be right now. If you want to go through the rest of the hiring process with us, then we can defer that call until we’ve made you an offer, and you’re ready to tell your current employer that you’re leaving.”
Yeah, great idea.
And if you say that anybody whose playing you has just been told, “You’re not going to get hired because we must have that conversation.” Along the same lines, another tip that I give that doesn’t occur naturally to a lot of dentists is when you phone those people, don’t ever use a phone number that an applicant gave you. So if somebody said that they worked for Dr. Smith in Peoria go to your favorite online search engine find the phone number and call that number and that way you know you’re speaking with Dr. Smith and not the applicant’s uncle pretending to be Dr. Smith. So hiring is the first place where people can greatly reduce their vulnerability to embezzlement, but also a whole bunch of other things. I mean, there are bad staff out there. There are incompetent staff, there are lazy staff, there are people who interview well, but perform poorly, and we just need to do a better job of controlling who we offer jobs too.
The next piece of advice that I’ll give your audience is one that they’re not going to like. I know that there’s a large component of the dental profession who would like to go through their whole career without ever understanding one of the most vital tools in their office, which is called Practice Management Software, and that’s really dangerous. Where I’m going with this specifically is reports that a doctor reviews at the end of the day and the end of the month should be ones that she or he printed themselves. As soon as you let a staff member print a report and hand it to you, you open the door very wide to selective reporting where you think you’re looking at the whole practice and in fact, you’re not. When you print the report, you control the parameters on which that report is generated, and you just eliminate that process. It’s not terribly time-consuming. I mean, it probably would take a couple of minutes at the end of the day to hit print for the reports that you look at, but that should be done by the doctor, not by a staff member. The third piece of advice that I give doctors is there’s some stuff that should be outsourced. So reconciling the bank account against practice management software and what’s called the merchant account, so this is the facility that takes credit card payments, and if your practice offers some kind of patient financing like CareCredit or LendingClub, the reconciliation of those three things should never be done by a staff member. And I know dentists well enough to know that very few of them are going to sit there on a Saturday morning and do that stuff themselves. So pay a couple of hundred dollars a month to a bookkeeper to do it. An external bookkeeper. Somebody not in the office. No access to cash or bank accounts or anything else. It’s just a paper reconciliation. That’s my third piece of advice.
Yeah. That’s excellent. What reports would you suggest our listeners run at the end of day and end of month?
The only hesitation I have in giving answers is that every piece of practice management software–
It is, yeah.
–names this stuff a little bit differently, so the audience is going to have to adapt a little bit from what I say to what they actually look at. On a daily basis, every software has some kind of daily summary. Sometimes it’s called a day sheet or day end report or something like that. And what that report does is it lists typically the fees that were charged, the adjustments that were made, and the payments that were received. So every dentist needs to look at that. Unfortunately, they really have no idea what payments were actually received, so that part of the report is not as meaningful. What they do need to look a though is their production and whether everything was properly charged. I mean, I ran into an office a little while ago, where radiography that hygienists were doing was not being billed simply because of a misunderstanding between the front desk and hygiene. And what I realized very quickly was if the doctor had ever looked at his you would’ve seen that no radiography whatsoever was being billed by hygiene. And they were doing bitewings, and they were doing panoramics and everything else, but it just never found its way onto– the patients weren’t being billed, and it was many thousands of dollars each year that was just kind of disappearing simply because of that. So that’s one report. Something I would spend a little bit of time on is that– most often, we’ll print something called an adjustment report or something close to that. So we want to see when people’s accounts are being adjusted. And when you think about how your practice management software looks at the world, it breaks things into categories in terms of incoming– in terms of reducing a patient’s balance. There are payments and adjustments. And your software says, well, payments are monetary, so they should be deposited in the bank, or they should be paid by credit card, or they should be falling into the care credit account. And adjustments are non-monetary. So when staff play games between those two, they can reduce the patient’s balance without necessarily the system expecting money to come in. So we want to look at the adjustment report. That stuff is also on the daily summary that you get, but that’s a place we need to spend some time.
The other possibility that doesn’t dawn on dentists is a lot of staff will sneak in on a Saturday and do some transactions, thinking that nobody will ever look at that day because as far as the doctor was concerned, the office was closed and nobody was there. So one of the key parts of a doctor’s review – and again, this is something that I think is fine to outsource – is to take all the day sheets and add them up and see if they add up to the same as the month end. If they don’t, then something happened on a day for which there’s no day sheet. At month end, most software produces some kind of month end summary, and that’s really the thing that should add up to the day end report. So it’s just like a 30-day version of a daily summary.
Another thing I want to look at for sure is a receivables report. So I want to know who holds the practice money, but I’m also going to suggest that people do something that most of them probably aren’t doing. So we’re here now, early in August, which means I probably just got the month end package from July on my desk. When I look at the August receivables report, what I really should do is I should pull out the one that I got at the 1st of July and set them side by side. So I want to compare this month to last month’s report, and I have some questions. For example, if somebody’s payment was 60 days overdue at the end of July and they haven’t paid it still, now, on the August report, it should be 90 days overdue. One of the things a lot of embezzlers will do is, when they’re stealing– the receivables from the practice climb and climb and climb, and they don’t want the doctor to notice that. So they will do some artificial transactions in software that are designed to take somebody who really is 90 days past due and make them show up as current.
Ah. Yeah. Sure. Yeah, yeah.
Okay? Because they know that what the doctors focus on when they look at that receivables report is who’s 60 days old and who’s 90 days old. So they’ll connive, and it’s not that hard in most software to fashion the account announce, and when you compare July’s report to August’s report, you’ll see that.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. [They’re okay?].
If you look at August in isolation, you might not.
Yeah, for sure. That’s a good one. I hadn’t thought of that. That was a good way to smoke screen it so that it’s [breathe?] in a place where you don’t notice. You don’t look as–
And the other thing about that is typically when you look at a receivable’s report, you have some questions. You ask your front desk people some questions. It’s a good chance to make some notes on the report. And then when you look at next– when you look at the report when it’s a month old and you’re comparing it to the newer one, you’ll see your notes from last time, and they’re sometimes a little bit of help in deciding on who should we send out to collections or who should we stop treating because they owe us money. That continuity from month to month is kind of important and not necessarily something that would be there if a doctor only looks at the most current report and just kind of trust their memory for what’s happened before.
So if somebody thinks that they’re being embezzled from, what do you recommend? You’re like America’s leading expert on this. And so obviously this is a service that you provide for people and so, but I’ve seen people get kind of crossways with how they manage the whole process. So give us some advice on what to do if we think this is happening in our practice.
Absolutely. I’ll start with the do not. And the biggest do not is if you’re in a situation where you have suspicion but no confirmation, so you’re not sure if it’s happening or not, no matter what else you do, do not let the suspect know that you suspect them. If I work for you and I’m stealing from you and I think I’m about to get caught and in my mind, getting caught means I go to jail, I may do some drastic measures to try save my bacon including in one notable case, murdering the dentist.
Really? Oh my gosh!
So it’s really important that when you have suspicions, do not telegraph them to the suspect which is easy to say and much harder to do, but that’s the consideration. The second thing and you mentioned my self-interest, this will be a very self-interested comment, you need expert advice quickly. We get a lot of calls from people who suspected embezzlement, and they and their spouse sat there for a whole bunch of weekends in the practice trying to figure it out. And they call us after about 2 or 3 months to that, they’re just totally frustrated. And it’s a problem that we could have solved much more quickly, but they kind of have to find that out the hard way. We have a huge advantage over people self-investigating. The first thing we do normally is we clone somebody’s software. So if you’re using Eaglesoft, we make a duplicate of your Eaglesoft, and we work with the duplicate, not the live software. A couple of reasons for that, one is to keep the stealth that I mentioned a minute ago. The second thing is it’s much, much easier to investigate in software that’s not changing every hour. When people try to work in their live software, it just won’t stand still for them, and they’re doing and it’s on weekends, so they look at stuff on Saturday and then they come back a week later and everything has changed because people made payments, the new treatments happened. Nothing lines up with last Saturday anymore. Whereas that’s a problem that we don’t have. So they need expert help and they certainly have other options aside from us but we’re definitely the biggest and the busiest. The other don’ts are don’t call the police and don’t call the insurance company that covers employee dishonesty in your practice. And the reason for those don’ts is you cannot answer the first second or 12 questions they’re going to ask you. The police are good with tangible theft. So if somebody steals your car and it gets recovered across town, the police can handle that really well because you left it there, somebody smashed the window and hot-wired it and moved it. On the other hand, the first question the police are going to ask you is, “Well, what was stolen? How much money was stolen?” And if you call them early on in the process, your answer is going to be, “Well, we don’t know yet.” And the second question the police are going to ask is, “Well, when did it start?” “We don’t know that either.” And, “How many people are involved?” “We’re not sure.” Well, after about the third question, the police are going to say, “Okay, it’s not our job to tell you what was stolen and who stole it. You have to tell us that. Once you do, then we’ll make sure that the law gets applied. But it’s not really our job to go and figure out what was stolen from you.”
And when you call your insurance prematurely, they want to open a file. And it sits there and sits there and they call you every week and you say, “Well, we’re not really ready to file as a claim yet because we’re still working on it.” And after about the sixth call, they just kind of walk away from your file. And then you come back two months later and say, “Okay, now I’m ready.” And they kind of groan and sort of resurrect your file. So there’s no point in involving either of those agencies until you’re ready to answer the questions that we know you’re going to get asked. So those are the don’ts.
In terms of the things to do, certainly at the moment that embezzlement is confirmed, you need to fire this employee. One of the mess that won’t seem to go away in that industry is if we fire somebody, it gets harder to have recourse against them once they’re not working for us anymore. And I get asked the question a lot like, “So your investigation is going to take six and a half weeks. Am I going to have to keep this person around for that time?” And the answer is absolutely not. If we already have proof or if this person is otherwise an unsatisfactory employee and this is even if we didn’t find embezzlement and you still want to fire them, let’s get rid of them now.
Yeah, and don’t have theft be the cause until you’ve got evidence to prove it.
That’s right and even then, sometimes you kind of– what we write in a lot of termination letters is money for which you were responsible is missing, which is slightly different than saying you stole it. We’re just saying it’s unaccounted for which is still plenty of ground to terminate somebody, and it’s nonaccusatory.
Good point. Yeah. That’s good. All right. So then the next step is to call you.
Well, call somebody. I’d like it to be us, but as I say, people do have other options. When somebody calls us, we spend a little time, initially, understanding their process. And then we can normally get started with gathering the stuff we’re going to need. And I mentioned copying the practice management software as part of it, and the other things we need. We normally can start gathering that stuff within a day or two. And typically, it takes a week to 10 days to get the stuff we need to do our work. And then one of our investigators will take a look at the file fairly quickly after that.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. So then what’s your thoughts on when it’s been proven on pressing charges against the person?
A couple of things there. The first thing is if you’re going to claim some or all of your loss under your employee dishonesty insurance coverage, the insurance companies invariably require you to make a police report. So most dentists have $25,000 in coverage for employee dishonesty, which relative to the amounts people steal, is pretty small. But it’s still a way to get something back from a theft. So if you’re going to make that claim, you must report to the police. It’s a precondition of claiming. So most embezzlement gets reported to the police. What sometimes people forget– because I hear people talking about, “Well, I’m going to press charges.” And I have to explain to them that isn’t quite how the system works. When somebody commits a criminal act, it’s their state or conceivably the federal government if it’s a federal crime who decide whether or not somebody gets charged. So if I punch you in the face, it’s the district attorney who decides whether I’ll be charged not you. Your role ends when you make the complaint. And then the police investigate, and the district attorney decides, based on the investigation, whether it’s something that they want to put in a courtroom. So a lot can happen in that process that’s out of the doctor’s control. The other thing about embezzlement, of course, is that it’s white-collar crime, and what that means is there’s no blood. There are no smashed windows. There’s no property damage. There’s no personal injury. So in every jurisdiction that has to allocate its enforcement resources between violent crime and nonviolent crime, most voters sort of prioritize violent crime. So one of the challenges, sometimes, is in getting the justice system interested enough in a case to do something about it. Also–
I have not run into that as a problem in my experience and in my clients’ experience pretty much.
Good to hear. It depends on the state. For example, in my experience, Texas draws a very hard line against white-collar crime. Whereas other states– and I’m thinking of California as one that we perceive as being a little softer against white-collar crime. And bluntly if the prisons are all full and there’s nowhere to put a criminal, then the judge has to think pretty hard about locking up a white collar criminal. Particularly, if they’ve made restitution or the victim– to the victim it doesn’t seem all that important that this person go to jail. And you mentioned early on in our conversation, the closeness that sometimes people have with the thieves. And one of the consequences is, that sometimes makes the victims more sad than angry. And they went to this person’s daughter’s wedding and they don’t ever want to have that daughter ask them, “Well, why did you send my mom to jail?” So sometimes you have victims who are, I’ll say, a little reluctant. And whatever impetus the justice system might have to do something vanishes pretty quickly when the victim says, “Look, it’s really not all that important to me that this person go to jail.
Yeah. Yeah, I get it. Yeah. What else did our listeners know? We’ve covered a lot of ground here already.
We have. Well, as a company we have– I think we just hired investigator number 16. They all have dental backgrounds. In fact, about 40% of them used to be dentists.
Yeah. We have a couple of areas that we treat as specialized. So we have a dedicated orthodontic investigation group who investigate when orthodontists get stolen from because their business models and software are just different enough from, say, general dentistry or periodontics, that it requires a specialized team of ours. We also have another team that does litigation support. So these are the kind of standard situation we get called into and actually, my next appointment is one of these. Somebody bought a practice from another dentist and decided after he bought the practice that it wasn’t what he was told it was going to be. And we’re in a pretty good position to determine, for example, that– the true number of active patients at the time the practice sold and what the revenue was and things like that. So we get called in sometimes to assist attorneys and, kind of, quantifying the stuff that they’re trying to deal with.
Sure. That’s a fairly common thing that numbers reported at a sale are not the actual numbers. I’ve run into that multiple times.
Yeah. I mean, that’s the case. We also see some cases of what I’d broadly call buyer’s remorse. Which is where somebody buys a practice and maybe their spouse doesn’t like living in the new state and wants to go back to where they were from. And they’re kind of looking for a way to un-buy the practice. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to jump up and down and scream, “Yeah, what I was told wasn’t accurate.” So it cuts both ways. Certainly, there are times when buyers present a more favorable picture of their practice than they should, and then there are times when sellers buying just don’t like it. We’re dealing with a case like this right now where the– somebody bought a practice and pretty much ran it into the ground in nine months. And rather than look at their own faults – and, in my opinion, there were many – they simply pointed a finger at the seller and said, “Gee, you sold me an unviable practice.” And the seller said, “Well, I ran it successfully for 20 years. I’m not really sure what– in what scenario that would be unviable. You killed it in nine months.”
Yeah. Yeah. So how can our listeners get ahold of you if they– so the services you provide– I assume you provide some checkup and help practices put in the systems necessary to prevent this.
So we didn’t really talk about that. You wanted to give a brief description of that?
Certainly. We have a whole product line devoted to that. It’s called office protection system and then we have different variants depending on whether somebody owns 10 practices or 1. But our office protection system offerings are really designed to help people lessen their vulnerability. And then we do investigations when people either have already found embezzlement or suspect it. And we also provide support to attorneys, as I mentioned, in solving some of the dental litigation actions that go on out there. And then we do a lot of speaking. So those are the work we do.
And so how can people get a hold of you?
Well, our website is a good starting point and it’s not hard to remember. It’s, www.dentalembezzlement.com. And the only trick in there is spelling embezzlement right. And they can always reach us by email, and I’ll give my personal email address for your audience. It’s, requests– sorry. My personal email address is david@– the same domain– dentalembezzlement.com. Or they can call us at 888-398– oh gosh. I just drew a blank on our phone number. I can’t believe that [laughter]. I so seldom give out the phone number, I’ll now go get my business care and read–
No, I got it. I got it for you. It’s 888-398-2327–
2327. Thank you for rescuing me. I just went blank there. Yeah, that’s our phone number so they’re welcome to call us or email us and I’m usually somebody’s initial point of contact until we’ve gotten their situation stabilized and their questions answered. And then my team will take it from there.
Yeah. Terrific. I so appreciate you being on the podcast today, David. You’re kind of a legend in dentistry. You are the man when it comes to this topic and so, so glad we could spend some time together.
Thank you. And you’ve got a fantastic reputation and I’m so honored to be in your presence.
Yeah. Well, thank you very much.