When hiring a new employee, we all try very hard to run background checks and interviews to determine the veracity of the applicant and his ability to fit into our culture and do the job. Contacting former employees usually only gets you an acknowledgement that the applicant actually worked for them – nothing about why or how they left. That’s how our legal system works.

Here’s a story about hiring a sales manager from a competitor that had an outstanding resume that seemed to check out. He was also someone known by our organization as a competent competitor. Sounds good.

One of our requirements was that he relocates to operate from our home office, which was over 1,000 miles from his current home. Another request was that I wanted to have my wife and I meet with his wife at some time to help with questions about the relocation. We finally set up a date, but we were informed that she had just had an accident when starting the trip and had to return home. Several weeks later I was told that they had found a place on their own in a city about 25 miles from our headquarters, with apologies that they hadn’t called while in town. OK, we’ll get together after they moved.

In the meantime, my new sales manager was traveling a lot to visit with our customers and sales people. He submitted weekly expense reports including many airline flights that I approved with little review. They seemed reasonable on the surface.

Small discrepancies began to surface about his whereabouts when supposedly visiting with our field people. When I got a call that he had failed to appear at a very important meeting, I got suspicious of all these unexplained events. We had still not yet met his wife after many weeks of employment.

I finally pulled all his expenses reports to see if I had missed something. Well, right up until the last week, all his trips included a routing through his “former” hometown from which he had presumably moved. A call to his home confirmed that the family was still there and that “daddy was on a trip.” We were being taken. He was obviously using us to expense his costs in setting up his own business. Probably the reason he was no longer with his former employer.

When I called him in for a meeting to discuss and terminate, I never got to the end. In the middle of the meeting, he just got up and walked out without a word. Hope you never have such an experience. Expense accounts are important tools for managing your business – don’t take them lightly.