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Crime of fraudulently appropriating property entrusted to one's care and converting it to one's own use. It occurs when a person gains possession of goods lawfully and then misappropriates them. It thus stands in contrast to larceny, the taking of goods from another without the latter's consent. The most widely adopted embezzlement statutes cover custodians of public funds. Many laws subject public servants to severe penalties, even if funds are lost through improper administration rather than a clear attempt to steal. See alsofraud, theft.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on embezzlement, visit Britannica.com.