Great Women In Fraud

Episode 15 Tom Hughes-Reformed Pink Collar Criminal

January 05, 2021 Kelly Paxton, CFE
Great Women In Fraud
Episode 15 Tom Hughes-Reformed Pink Collar Criminal
Chapters
Great Women In Fraud
Episode 15 Tom Hughes-Reformed Pink Collar Criminal
Jan 05, 2021
Kelly Paxton, CFE

Tom Hughes closed the 2019 ACFE Global Conference.  “The first dollar, because you have a genuine financial emergency … that first dollar, you’re going to agonize about that money,” said Hughes. “You’re going to go to work the next day and you’re expecting the police to be there, probably with a television crew, because you have done this awful thing. But the next morning, you go to work, and nobody’s there. And you say, ‘I’ll never do this again.’ But stealing is going to turn you into a thief.”

I was there and heard his story first hand.  As Tom said in this episode he's not famous because he didn't steal enough. That is the thing about pink-collar crime. Petty amounts stolen by low to medium level employees (he was an outside bookkeeper), primarily women,  from the workplace.  Tom is a regular guy.  He wasn't on the front page of the Wall Street or New York Times. But that is what makes his story so interesting and relatable.  

Links: https://hireathief.com/

https://hireathief.wordpress.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/speaker-tom-hughes/

https://twitter.com/formercriminal

https://www.fraudconferencenews.com/home/2019/6/29/stealing-will-turn-you-into-a-thief


Show Notes Transcript

Tom Hughes closed the 2019 ACFE Global Conference.  “The first dollar, because you have a genuine financial emergency … that first dollar, you’re going to agonize about that money,” said Hughes. “You’re going to go to work the next day and you’re expecting the police to be there, probably with a television crew, because you have done this awful thing. But the next morning, you go to work, and nobody’s there. And you say, ‘I’ll never do this again.’ But stealing is going to turn you into a thief.”

I was there and heard his story first hand.  As Tom said in this episode he's not famous because he didn't steal enough. That is the thing about pink-collar crime. Petty amounts stolen by low to medium level employees (he was an outside bookkeeper), primarily women,  from the workplace.  Tom is a regular guy.  He wasn't on the front page of the Wall Street or New York Times. But that is what makes his story so interesting and relatable.  

Links: https://hireathief.com/

https://hireathief.wordpress.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/speaker-tom-hughes/

https://twitter.com/formercriminal

https://www.fraudconferencenews.com/home/2019/6/29/stealing-will-turn-you-into-a-thief


00:00:04.170 --> 00:00:19.260

Kelly Paxton: Today, we have the most fortunate experience of getting to talk with Tom Hughes. Tom Hughes is an actual pink collar criminal remember its position not gender and I had the

absolute pleasure to see him close the ACFE global conference in 2019 and we got to meet and talk later. And I consider it an absolute honor to be talking with you Tom because

I mean, you've done this, you have done what I have been preaching about since 2009. So let's get started. And I want you to start about you know your name and your role in fraud and I know this is a little different from my normal 

00:00:53.880 --> 00:00:56.160

Tom Hughes: Kelly Thank you for having me. I appreciate this.

As you said, my name is Tom Hughes. I've been a banker. I've been an accountant. I've managed musicians on the road. I've done a lot of things. And for a long time. I found myself handling money and assets that belong to other people and simply forgot the differentiation between what was theirs, and what was mine. I went to prison twice for it when I get out of prison. I made it my business to talk to people about how to protect themselves, whether it's business owners protecting their own businesses. Or accountants, auditors and law enforcement on how to either prevent or detect activity like mine.


00:01:37.680 --> 00:01:51.060

Kelly Paxton: Yeah, that's so interesting. So I just finished my book and my book. The title is Embezzlement, How to Prevent, detect and investigate pink collar crime. So the fact that you just said prevent and detect. It's like, ding, ding, ding, that's kind of exciting.


00:01:51.660 --> 00:02:04.830

Tom Hughes: Well, certainly, prevention is where the money is. Because if you kept somebody stealing your money, chances are your money is going for good. So the real value is in preventing that first theft in the first place.


00:02:06.270 --> 00:02:15.480

Kelly Paxton: Well, yeah. Exactly. And you know as the fraud hashtag Queen of my hashtags is no one steals to save like we just don't steal to save

It. Yeah. So yeah, and there was a little upset. We just don't steal to save. Just to clarify this. I have not stolen. Okay. So just to clarify,


00:02:25.860 --> 00:02:27.720

Tom Hughes: You meant we in the theoretical sense


00:02:28.260 --> 00:02:36.810

Kelly Paxton: Very good. Very and that's another interesting thing about you. So since you have also you speak on ministry to do you want to talk about that.


00:02:39.450 --> 00:02:49.650

Tom Hughes: It's such a gift to be able to talk to people like I do if I was to approach a state run public university and say, Hey, can I come and share the gospel with your students.

I wouldn't get much of a response. But if I'm talking about accounting finance markets embezzlement fraud.

And somebody in the audience happens to ask a question about what turned my life around and why I do what I do. That answer naturally leads to sharing the gospel. Anyway, so I feel like it's a gift I have that I never would have been able to share my real testimony, had I not been caught doing the things I did.

00:03:17.820 --> 00:03:26.340

Kelly Paxton: Well, that's really interesting because I talked with victims of pink collar crime, and I also talked with people that have committed pink collar crime.


00:03:26.730 --> 00:03:33.270

Kelly Paxton: And, um, you know, the whole turning lemons into lemonade. I've even had victims who have I'm not going to say it's turned out better for them. But it kind of sort of has

And Mark Cuban. I don't know if you're aware of. He was embezzled his first business out after he got his MBA. He was embezzled to the tune of $82,000 she left him 2000 he had 84 and she left him 2000 But he actually said it was the best thing that ever happened to him so early in his career because he knew it would never happen again. So we have to turn something really bad into something really good and you've done that.


00:04:07.260 --> 00:04:10.230

Tom Hughes: I like to think so it's a work in progress.


00:04:11.580 --> 00:04:19.380

Kelly Paxton: Well, we are all a work in progress, which goes to my next question is, if you were going to write a book or books, what would it be about


00:04:20.760 --> 00:04:28.230

Tom Hughes: Right now I'm in the starting stages are three books. It's anybody's guess which one is going to pick up traction and get finished first

The first one is a book about how every character in the Bible is every one of us how we should see ourselves in every story and every character.

That's the reason there are so many characters in the Bible. So leper that gets healed and forgets to say thank you that's us leper that gets healed and does say thank you. It was also us

Centurion who knows that his kid can be healed from a distance. That's us. But Martha standing by the tomb, saying, you know, if you open it, it's just going to smell. That's also us

So that's one of them. The other book is about daily life and in nursing home.

The last three years I dealt with my parents transitioning out of their home into assisted living before they died. Before that, we had a close friend who also ended her life came to the end of her life in a nursing home.

There were a lot of things about you know the financial strain on families to the tedium of daily life to what it's like to work there that I wanted to get across.

And the third book I have in mind is my story, which for some reason I'm having the hardest time writing about, I've always felt that since my crimes weren't especially noteworthy. I didn't make national press

I didn't know how interesting they be but I'm making an effort to to make my story interesting in that way we'll see which one gets finished first


00:06:00.630 --> 00:06:03.060

Kelly Paxton: Well personally I would buy all three of those because


00:06:03.180 --> 00:06:03.660

Tom Hughes: Thank you.


00:06:04.020 --> 00:06:12.480

Kelly Paxton: They're absolutely fascinating. And then this kind of goes on to story which we talked about earlier. And I'm going to have a link to your blog posts and one of your I gotta get the name right is telling stories. And I think this is what you are great at because you say, for most of my work. The most part of my work. It consists of speaking at the beginning I make a point of telling my audience that I didn't bring a PowerPoint presentation and we said something earlier and you had the best so


00:06:42.330 --> 00:06:53.730

Tom Hughes: We're, we're inundated in every meeting with with somebody PowerPoint and where I'm concerned if there's anything more tedious than a badly done PowerPoint. It's one badly done by an accountant. I'm just not the most creative guy. There are people that are good at it. I'm not so I'm not going to subject an audience to

To to my playing it, you know, making it interesting, especially since technology. I think is a very small part of fraud, it's, it's about the stories. It's about the people involved on both sides. It's about what causes people to fall for a con and what causes people to create a con

It's never been about the technology.


00:07:27.450 --> 00:07:38.820

Kelly Paxton: Well Joe Wells says fraud is not an accounting problem. It's a human problem and you have in your, you know, on your website fraud is a human behavior problem at


00:07:42.510 --> 00:07:46.710

Tom Hughes: Solomon wrote, I don't know 3400 years ago 3500 years ago.

In Proverbs, he wrote about don't cheat each other in business.

He didn't say that, you know, you have to hire somebody to test your scales.

From a technological point of view. He said, Don't cheat each other in business.That's it wasn't about the technology than either.


00:08:06.300 --> 00:08:09.060

Kelly Paxton: Yeah, I hadn't thought about that way. But I mean,

I'm okay with Excel and a pivot table but i mean i don't have to be great. I just have to show where the money goes so There's a lot of talk about artificial intelligence. I mean, there's so much money being thrown it artificial intelligence and fraud and things like that.

And I'm kind of like if you don't even open your bank statements which we're going to talk about in a second. If you can't even open your bank statements. The best AI in the world is not going to stop fraud. So why don't you talk a little bit about you and bank statements.

00:08:43.620 --> 00:08:51.480

Tom Hughes: When, when I was helping out small businesses or helping myself to small businesses. You could look at it either way.

I would take on a bookkeeping client. And I would know in about six weeks, whether the owner was paying attention or not if six weeks went by and I got to bank statements on opened on my desk. I knew that business owner could be in trouble. Because he wasn't going to notice.

And, you know, maybe it's not fair to say, look, this is your business, you have to pay attention. You have to take control of this fair or not it's necessary, you need to protect, what's yours.

People go into business because they want to do what they what they love they want to make a few bucks growing dogs brewing beer fabricating parts grow growing tangerines, but

They need to acquaint themselves with the administrative side of their business because if they don't, some guy like me is going to come in with a winning smile and say I'm an accountant. Tedium is my comfort zone. Let me take care of this for you.

And they will willingly hand over control of their business.

It's it. I did some rotten things to people who never saw it coming. And they never saw it coming because they never looked

00:10:04.890 --> 00:10:09.870

Kelly Paxton: Well, okay. So then let's go to. How would your family and friends describe you


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Tom Hughes: Sounds like a continuation of the last question, because people would describe me as a really nice guy. People who steal from you are gonna be nice. They're going to be polite, they're going to sound knowledgeable about what they do, they're going to try to, you know, take your hand and take the stress of the situation, away from you as though they're taking the stress for you.

Nice doesn't equate to honest.

Well, if I wasn't nice. If you didn't trust me.

I wouldn't be able to steal from you.


00:10:46.980 --> 00:10:50.490

Kelly Paxton: And that's another one of my hashtags is trust is not an internal control.


00:10:51.060 --> 00:10:52.320

Tom Hughes: That's absolutely correct.

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Kelly Paxton: I have only had one victim who said he did not like the young woman who worked for him and he said I never gave her access to my bank account. And I'm like, well, she still sold $450,000 a year visa return machine.

And he just, he is the only person and I talked to Fraud Examiners all day long. And the same thing. And you know, when I say, Who is she or he has a pink collar criminal it. It's the exceptional employee. It's the one you go to, it's your right hand or your second wife or

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Tom Hughes: It's not the one you dislike

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Kelly Paxton: Yeah, you have to have that trust in order to be able to commit the crime.

So yeah, um, but what's the, what's the biggest compliment you've ever received and I like this one for you.

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Tom Hughes: I mean totally unrelated subject and I guess the biggest compliment I ever got was

A new age liberal priest who said I was a fundamentalist meaning it as as an insult.


00:12:04.200 --> 00:12:08.130

Tom Hughes: My I think as far as genuine compliments come after I had been through so much difficulty and created so much chaos and created so much heartbreak and misery. My parents told me late in their life that they were so happy I was doing what I'm doing now that they were prouder of me now than they had been when they thought I had a professional life before and I think that's that's what means the most to me.

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Kelly Paxton: That's, that's amazing. And I'm so glad that again, you know, turn lemons into lemonade I've defended and been on the prosecution side of many embezzlement cases. And when someone is caught you see the physical relief when they're caught. Did you have that physical relief?


00:12:54.690 --> 00:12:57.060

Tom Hughes: the day the FBI came to my door.

It, you know it. It wasn't the beginning of the end it was the end of the beginning it was just

I mean, you always know who it is, when they're coming

Because they parked this enormous land yacht in my driveway.

There's just no question they got to the door. Yeah, to genuinely nice guys. They said, do you know who we are. I said, yep. They said, do you know why we're here. I said, yep. They said, Did you do it. I said, yep. And the weight just evaporated.

And I learned. I learned that day. You know what I should have learned long before, among other lessons is that when you're caught just say it.

In fact, I, I got I got in trouble in prison for doing something I shouldn't have. And when are one of the officers called me in his office and said, who did this particular thing. I said, Me.

He couldn't believe it. He said, nobody ever says that here.

If there's a tremendous amount of relief when you do that.


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Kelly Paxton: Oh, yeah, yeah. There's, I have seen it and you know the other thing is, like, I'm not gonna say, I mean we have mastermind criminals out there.

And I'm going to go so far as to say that embezzlement is not a mastermind criminal, it's usually one person, you know, once in a while. There's a conspiracy of it. But generally you know it's one person in my investigative experience. It's always been one person.

00:14:38.460 --> 00:14:45.240

Tom Hughes: Overwhelming majority of cases, if somebody who sees something they want may take it. That's it. That's a shorter description is we can make

00:14:45.840 --> 00:14:50.040

Kelly Paxton: Yeah yeah and and then when they do get caught.

Well, I don't know, did I didn't ask you this before. Did you keep track of what you stole as you stole. No. Okay. Did you ever, like, did you have a running tab, kind of in your head.

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Tom Hughes: When I was in my, in my federal criminal case. I was within two or $3,000 off the top of my head.

00:15:17.730 --> 00:15:23.010

Kelly Paxton: And then this is a this and I've done this work with a forensic psychologist and

I always ask, tell me about the first time you stole

And that first time they it Nathan Mueller who stole a half million dollars from img bank. He's like, it's 27,800 and they remember the exact dollar. Whereas if I say, tell me about, you know, six months later, it's like, I don't know. I stole, did you have that


00:15:48.180 --> 00:16:00.210

Tom Hughes: It's interesting. I my case is a little bit different because the most money I ever stole at one time was at my first job when I was 18 So that, that's kind of an outlier, but I understand that the idea because you remember that dollar one is the one you agonize over when you're going to go, you go to work the next day and you're thinking 60 minutes is going to be there waiting for you and then and not, not so stressful dollar number 25,000 I don't know when I stole it from or who or from . Yeah, because it all becomes a blur. At that point, the first one is the one you need to prevent. Because stealing once will turn you into a thief, it'll change your thinking where you're looking at the next time it'll change your thinking and say, How can I can see all this. But if you can prevent the first one you prevent all the subsequent ones too.

00:16:51.990 --> 00:17:01.470

Kelly Paxton: Well, and I played it somewhat to like your first girlfriend or boyfriend. I will tell you mine was Andy. Ask me about number five. I don't know. I'd have to really think hard

So, but that first one it's, you know,

Psychologists will say it is literally seared into your brain.


00:17:11.880 --> 00:17:13.020

Tom Hughes: I can believe that. Once you if you've never stolen money from your employer before or or swindled an investor or anything else you can comfortably say I will never do that.

After you've done it the first time, much like certain other firsts in life. You can never say I'll never do that all you're left with is, I'll never do that again.

And the bar for that one is significantly lower

Because you've already done it once.

00:17:43.380 --> 00:17:43.860

Kelly Paxton: Right. This goes to what you said, If you could turn back time and talk to your 18 year old self, what would you tell yourself.

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Tom Hughes: I would try to remember all the things my father was telling my 18 year old self at the time. And repeat them. About. There are no shortcuts.

Most of the shortcuts. We see in life are lies.

That it would have been so much more beneficial so much more profitable so much more rewarding had I stayed in school and stayed on schedule.

Either gotten a license as an accountant or gone to law school done something professional and stuck with actually doing the work instead of pretending to do the work and stressing myself to the max covering the money I stole because I wasn't doing the work.

It's just easier to do things in the right order.


00:18:51.990 --> 00:18:52.860

Kelly Paxton: That is and it's simple. How you just said it. It's just easier in the right order. It is simple but life isn't simple these days.


00:19:02.760 --> 00:19:12.720

Tom Hughes: Well, no kidding when you look at all the money I stole were swindled, or wasted over the course of, I don't know 20 years or so. It's between eight and $900,000. Which, if you look at that amount of time. It's pretty crappy way to make a make a living.  A big for partner makes that amount of money and under two years, but he makes it every two years.

That would have been the more profitable way to go.

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Kelly Paxton: Yeah, we wouldn't have met that it would have been the more profitable way to go.

Who are the three people in your life, who've had the most influence on you. I think there are many guests. One is your dad.

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Tom Hughes: One is my dad who who just passed away last year. He was retired. He was Chief Financial Officer of What he thought when he you know I don't know, they probably did 150 million dollars a year, which by government standards is a smaller mid market business but he thought he was at the absolute top of his profession. He had really made it from growing up lower middle class or poor to to being a professional to having a lot of responsibility, he was honest and all the things I could have wanted in a dad.

One day, right after I caught my first criminal charge We were  Well, we weren't shopping. My first wife and my mom are shopping dad and I were standing and Macy's, looking forward, and he was trying to hold it together because it was so raw for him that I had been caught doing this.

And he said, You know, Tom, The last 10 years I was working I probably could have pulled 100,000 bucks a year out of that company and nobody would have known.

I hired every one of the accounting staff, I set up,  I purchased the accounting system.

The President, the Board of Directors. They thought accounting was witchcraft. They had no interest in what I did. The KPMG partner on on our account.

I went to Bentley with him and he knew I was the one that hired the auditors, they would have deferred to me on any decision.

He said Tom. You know why I didn't steal any money from the company.

Because it never occurred to me, that's why.

And those words just stick with me today.

It occurs to a lot of people and a lot of people act on it like I did. But my father was

And other of my influences is my old boss at the Vermont State auditors department Tom Salmon, who called me up one day from the State Auditor's Office and said, Hey, how about we go on the road and make a whole bunch of presentations all over the state.

And I worked as a contractor with the State Auditor's Office talking to people learning how to make myself understood. How to speak to people.  How to tell stories. How to give dire warnings when necessary. But it was Tom, who really gave me a reputation statewide and enabled me to

To build on that.  Tom is a  CPA, as well as a Certified Fraud examiner

The other would probably be a group of three guys Alan Bachman, Bruce Dorris and John Gill  at the ACFE who who also gave me an opportunity to tell my story to

A lot of people at the same time, who gave me an opportunity to give a different perspective to people who go to work every day, not necessarily understanding how a thief might think

And ACFE has been very good to me in that regard.


00:23:38.880 --> 00:23:56.070

Kelly Paxton:  Well, they close out the global conference every year with you know someone who has committed fraud and the first one I saw was Diane Cattani and then I don't. Oh, I don't remember the one prior to that, but then yours in 2019 and I didn’t know you actually were closing and otherwise I wouldn't, I would have asked you to wear a pink shirt.

I think it's so important that they do that every year because, I mean, I say that I used to arrest bad guys. The SCARY DUDES when you put someone up that looks like you. That looks like Diane Cattani that looks like Rita Crundwell and you say, Oh my gosh, they look like me.

00:24:23.880 --> 00:24:24.510

Tom Hughes: Oh yeah, and

00:24:25.530 --> 00:24:35.970

Kelly Paxton: That's really important to do. I think it's very important that we realize that it could be you. I mean, besides the psychopaths and the Narcissists out there.

know one. I can't get out of bed. I say in the morning. If I think everyone's out to steal. They say that locks or for 2% of the population 1% will get in, no matter what and 1% like your dad would never go in, no matter what. And then it's the 98% that we just have to have the locks, because maybe they'll try it, maybe they won't try it.

So yeah I think the ACFE does a great job. I think it's incredibly important to do that. Um. Which kind of leads us to the next question is, if you had a chance to attend college. Now what classes, would you take?

00:25:14.850 --> 00:25:23.310

Tom Hughes: I think for pure enjoyment. If I had the resources and the time I'd probably go to school for a master's tax just for enjoyment. If I was to go to school for something in line with what I do now, I would probably want a master's in psychology

Because I have a great interest not only in what causes people like me to steal, but I have a great interest and the people who get stolen from

The people who, you know, overcome their internal red flags overcome their internal doubts and say yes, I'll go along with this investment scheme. Yes, I'll hand over control of my business.

For more reasons than we can we can count. Very often, because they don't want to look dumb.

But I have a lot of interest in what causes people to fall for things I doubt. I'm gonna go back to school, but it would be between those two. If I did.


00:26:17.370 --> 00:26:24.300

Kelly Paxton: Well, I say, I would go back for behavioral economics behavioral science. And that ties into that, um, you know. We have optimism bias. I can be teaching a course on fraud and or ethics and everyone in the course is going to look next to the person and say,

Well, they might get stolen from they're not as smart as me, or I think we think that they say there's just statistic out there that

You know, people think their chances of getting cancer like 4% when it's really 30% they're like well I exercise we have optimism bias. And there's a reason we have optimism bias and helps us be successful. And one of my best clients when I met him, he said he'd never have to hire me because no one would dare steal from him. 18 months later, guess who's on the phone trusted lieutenant with a raging gambling problem stole high six figures, but he he thought he's like no one would steal from me, because I’m first of all, very successful self made I'm successful I'm self made. He's like, I'm scary, which, you know, I beg to differ. But, um, and it happened to him by his most trusted person, it didn't happen by, you know, yeah. So again, trust is not an internal control. And then it's not rocket science. And you don't have to have that master's in tax. You don't have to have a master's in accounting and pink collar crime is low to mid level employees who steal from the workplace, you could get a CFO like your dad. Well, not like your dad because he seemed like he was really in it.  Who doesn't even know how to make a journal entry literally doesn't know how to do it, but that woman that man that's in the low level accounting position. They're the ones who have the actual access

00:28:14.700 --> 00:28:19.800

Tom Hughes: Something you said reminded me when i when i read, I can while it spoke about Enron years ago. The day the company started to fall apart and the new CFO took over. He walked in the office and said, How much money do we have, and how much money do we owe. Nobody knew

00:28:32.430 --> 00:28:45.000

Kelly Paxton: There's a guy who's he's a professional speaker, and I heard him on a podcast. And I think this is what happens a lot, is we run our business out of our heads. So say you're a successful manufacturer and you're like, I sell a million widgets and I make $10 per widget. I have $10 million in the bank and you know okay so I don't need to look at my bank statement because I know in my head. And that's what he said. He said, I ran my business out of my head, and he also thought because he was so small, he didn't need to check the processes.

Which he did. No matter how big or how small you are in the ACFE their Report to the Nation shows the smaller the company, the higher the median loss.

00:29:19.230 --> 00:29:22.860

Tom Hughes: Absolutely. Well, there are fewer controls in the smaller company.


00:29:25.980 --> 00:29:30.390

Kelly Paxton: Well, go into that. What was your average client who was your average client.

00:29:32.220 --> 00:29:35.130

Tom Hughes: And owner managed business under a million dollars a year.

Usually significantly less than a million dollars here. Who was in the business because he loved what he was doing, or saw a niche, where he could make a few bucks but was not well versed in circular. He with his 941s.  And I saw the opportunity too.  I would usually go in thinking, I'm not going to steal from this guy. Usually didn't last long.  But I would go in and say, Yes, I can take care of this for you. I can take this burden off your hands and allow you to do what you love into a business owner. That sounds great, that's fabulous.

The in my federal criminal case there were two clients that I had taken.

Just about $20,000 each from over the course of about a year and a half. One of the clients I used to joke with about how I was taking his money. He still didn't see it coming.  In fact it when the FBI interviewed me. They said, you know, we have this case in front of us. Did you do this to anybody else? And it took me a while to come out and say, You know what, guys. Yes.

00:30:56.700 --> 00:31:01.980

Tom Hughes: And it was the FBI that approached that other client and said, you don't know this yet, but your accountant stole money from you. As we've talked about it wasn't an awful lot of money. If you are a Business Week or Barrons, or the Wall Street Journal, if you're a business owner who's knocking himself out 80 hours a week 20,000 bucks is a lot of money.

So for the people I victimized. It was a big deal. It should be a big deal.


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Kelly Paxton: Well, and we talked earlier, you did a presentation with the former CFO of ZZ best and you said, I believe it was in Vermont. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?

00:31:45.330 --> 00:31:48.540

Tom Hughes: We were both scheduled to speak to the society of CPAs

Mr. Morris did his presentation after I did mine. I was kind of the opening opening act because I was less notorious criminal and he told me before he started the presentation. He said in in this room, you know in in Vermont.  Almost no accountant in this room is going to is going to be faced with of large scale financial statement fraud by a public company.

 He said every single accountant in this room every one of their firms is going to be faced with the kind of crime you committed That every one of them sometimes within their firm is going to have a case where a trusted employees steals money.

And that's where most of the criminal activity is it's in small businesses by trusted employees among businesses that often can't stomach, the los

00:32:44.850 --> 00:32:51.540

Kelly Paxton: Well, that's what I call it again. Hashtag the relatable crime. We don't relate to Bernie Madoff


00:32:52.620 --> 00:32:52.860

Tom Hughes: No.


00:32:53.070 --> 00:32:58.230

Kelly Paxton: Because we think that, no. It's just a bunch of billionaires who got ripped are millionaires who got ripped off. We do relate to the soccer team, the soccer club. The water district, the dentist who gets ripped off because they live in our communities.


00:33:07.410 --> 00:33:17.100

Kelly Paxton:  And that's kind of the whole mission of pink collar crime is to understand it can happen in any industry in any geography by anyone.

00:33:17.700 --> 00:33:18.240

Tom Hughes: It can

00:33:20.280 --> 00:33:30.720

Kelly Paxton: So wrapping this up. Um, what do you want to tell your the listeners today about you and what plans you have for the future.

00:33:32.220 --> 00:33:33.900

Tom Hughes: I, I think in the coming year.

I want to talk to as many people as I possibly can.  Whether it's, you know, I don't know if it's chambers of commerce or state societies CPA is or law enforcement groups or business owners, but as time goes on. It's just more important to me to put myself in front of as many people as I can. Maybe because I'm just narcissistic enough to talk about myself for hours at a time in front of large groups, but also because iit's a message that at least I think needs to be heard it needs to be heard by business owners who think they're not going to be victimized and by the accountants, whose clients are going to deal with things like this.

00:34:17.010 --> 00:34:33.510

Kelly Paxton: Absolutely. Well, we're going to help you get out on the road in barring any, you know, more coven mutations or anything like that. Um, and then my last question is always, and maybe you haven't done this yet today. What is the last thing you Googled before this interview?


00:34:41.250 --> 00:34:42.180

Tom Hughes: Now, I don't remember.


00:34:45.240 --> 00:34:46.410

Tom Hughes: Actually, the last thing I last thing I looked up was an embezzlement case in New Mexico.

Because, uh, somebody I follow had posted it on LinkedIn and it was about a woman who stole I think 100 $250 at a time from a student organization. And it, it broke it just broke my heart for the students and for her. When she was caught, she forged a check for the full amount thinking she was going to pay it all back without regard to where the money was going to come from when she wrote the check and I've been in that desperate situation before

I've been yeah thinking. I had no options. What am I gonna do, what am I going to do and cases like that just breaks my heart.

00:35:38.070 --> 00:35:51.480

Kelly Paxton: Yeah, they they absolutely break my heart. I've never had to make that choice, knock on wood, but I don't pass judgment on people that feel that, you know, it's their choice.

They have nowhere else to go. And so, yeah, I want to leave it on that note that it can, it does happen to anyone.

00:36:03.480 --> 00:36:22.470

Kelly Paxton: So I will put your information in the show notes. And I want to thank you again, Tom so much for meeting you at the ACFE global getting to visit with you, seeing you on social media and you being vulnerable enough to be on Great Women in Fraud. So thank you.

00:36:22.830 --> 00:36:24.030

Tom Hughes: Kelly Thank you for having me.