This is why you should be careful with meal expenses

Expensing meals is one of the few perks of staying late at the office, but there’s a line between ordering a fancy meal on your boss’ dime and fraud.

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

Expensing meals is one of the few perks of staying late at the office, but as some ex-Wells Fargo staffers can now attest, there’s a line between ordering a fancy meal on your boss’ dime and fraud. This past week, the Wall Street Journal reported that since May, at least nine of the bank’s analysts and associates were fired or quit of their own volition after the bank said they were caught altering their meal receipts

Why you can’t get too creative with work expenses

At Wells Fargo, employees were allowed to order dinner through delivery services like Seamless if they had to stay late at the office to work, but some employees were taking the policy too far and were expensing meal during regular hours before the 6:30 p.m. cutoff, the Journal found. In order to get away with it, these employees allegedly altered time stamps on meal receipts, so that they could get reimbursed for ordering meals.

“We became aware that certain Wells Fargo Securities team members were not complying with the after-hours meals reimbursement policies after they were brought to the attention of our leaders by concerned team members,” Wells Fargo told the Journal in a statement.

For many of us, it feels tempting to expense as much as we can from our richer companies. ‘If I’m already working late for my boss,’ the thinking goes, ‘I’m going to get as much out of it as I can.’ According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, lying about expenses is one of the easiest ways to steal from your employer and accounts for 14.5% of workplace fraud. But as the Wells Fargo scandal shows, there is a cost to getting carried away with this entitlement to what you think you are owed.

Monica Torres|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at mtorres@theladders.com.