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Embezzlement and fraud are closely connected concepts, and it is not surprising that there is some confusion between the two. Put simply, fraud in general involves an act or acts of deception for personal gain. Embezzlement is a specific type of fraud, where people steal through fraudulent activity. Penalties for these crimes vary, depending on the specifics of a case, and it can be prosecuted as a criminal act in some cases, not just a civil crime.
People who commit embezzlement are in a position to legally have possession of property, and use fraud to gain control of it. For example, a bank teller legally has access to accounts and can transfer and control funds as part of the teller's work. If the bank teller transfers funds from a customer's account to her own, this would be embezzlement. She is using fraud, misrepresenting the transaction as approved by the bank to steal money belonging to someone else.
It is possible for people to be charged separately for embezzlement and fraud, as people may commit other fraudulent activities during the process of embezzling assets. To build a case, people must show that the defendant had legal authority over the assets, took them with the use of fraudulent activity, and restricted the ownership rights of the person who actually owns the property by making it impossible to access.
People with responsibility over assets are held to very high standards of behavior due to concerns about embezzlement and fraud. When actions involving transfers of title and movements of assets are undertaken, they are documented carefully to show they are valid and legal and to reduce the risks of unauthorized transfers. The practice of keeping proof of title in separate locations is one way to address concerns about embezzlement and fraud; a mechanic, for example, cannot illegally transfer a car into her ownership while it is in her care by reregistering it if the car's title documents are securely stored.
The difference between embezzlement and fraud can be important in cases where the finer details of the case are being argued. People can commit fraud without embezzling and it is possible for people to steal in ways that are not fraudulent, as for example when a bank robber enters a bank and demands funds, or when someone fraudulently claims to have a university degree and uses this degree as a professional qualification to get jobs.