The Youth Finance and Business (YFAB) Chapter at Pueblo West High School is expanding its curriculum for the upcoming semester. Adult Advisor Jeffrey Lancaster, who has been sponsoring the club at Pueblo West High for 12 years, says the new lesson plans focus on “Teaching our students proper [embezzlement] technique, which includes things like manipulation of inventory systems, fudging reconciliation sheets, and ultimately not getting caught.”
“We’re starting with very simple strategies,” Lancaster continued “We don’t use a register in our [YFAB Student] store, just a cash bag, so basically as long as our students aren’t caught on tape, they can embezzle three to five bucks per shift very easily.”
Lancaster explained that a quick-fingered thief can palm small amounts of cash under the pretense of retrieving change for a customer. Later in the year though, the club will be purchasing a register that the students will have to circumvent in order to embezzle effectively.
Students will have to couple the techniques they learned earlier in the semester with brand new ones. “In order to steal from a register,” says Lancaster, “You need to have a customer at the counter and say, if the transaction is for three dollars and they give you a five [dollar bill], you ring it up as they gave you a ten [dollar bill], give them back two bucks and pocket the rest.”
“This is more difficult,” Lancaster told le Shallot. “Since the balance of the drawer is tracked by the ticker tape, you have to basically pawn off the responsibility on someone else, which is where we ramp up our curriculum and start teaching them about plausible deniability.”
Lancaster stresses that the while embezzling is not that difficult, embezzling properly (i.e. not getting caught) can be very tricky. “I basically tell [my students], ‘This business is a very cutthroat world. It’s you or [your competitors.’”
“I want them to be the best.”
The course will be rounded out with a comprehensive applied final. Students will be given a certain amount of time in the YFAB store and required to steal as much cash and inventory as possible. Students that fail (by getting caught) will be required to complete “Friday School.”
The curriculum is modeled after current “Big Business” practices.
YFAB students are excited about the course. Senior Brendan Thomas, who will be among the first students to enroll, says “I’ve been doing this kind of thing for a while, but to have it taught by my teachers, and learn the proper, correct way to do things is very cool.”
Parents of students are also appreciative of the new curriculum.
Lisa Compton, whose daughter Nelli will be taking the class next semester says “It’s very important that our children, especially in this tough economy, have the opportunity to learn ways to [she laughs] pad their pockets, so to speak”