Archives for category: Jobs/Careers

Mark Twain Museum, Hartford

In “not so breaking news” (at least to those in the non-profit sector), the controller for the Mark Twain Museum in Hartford, pleaded guilty to fraud and filing false income taxes this past August.  How did she do it?  Through the use of ghost employees.  Up until 30 minutes ago, I was completely unaware of this (apparently) common scandal that happens often in the non-profit sector.  According to Easy Office Blog, “For those of us in the sector who have seasonal workers, or a large part-time staff, ghost employees can be a real problem…the bookkeeper simply “invents” an employee and pays them.  Management often doesn’t notice as payroll gets entered into the accounting system in a lump sum.”

Ghost employees "add up" via

How can you prevent employees from committing this fraud?  Well the most important way is having a pre-payroll register approved and signed by department head so that people and amounts can be verified and approved.  Other tactics may include:

  • Ensure the payroll preparation, disbursement and distribution functions are segregated.
  • Look for paychecks without deductions for taxes or Social Security. Completely fictitious employees frequently don’t have any.
  • Examine payroll checks that have dual endorsements. Although most of them are legitimate, two signatures could signal the forgery of a departed employee’s endorsement, which the thief also endorses and deposits into his or her own account.
  • Use direct deposits. This method, although not foolproof, can cut down on payroll chicanery by eliminating paper paychecks and the possibility of alteration, forgery and most theft, although it doesn’t prevent misdirection of deposits into unauthorized accounts.
  • Check payroll records for the presence of duplicate names, addresses and Social Security numbers.
  • On occasion, hand-deliver paychecks to employees and require positive identification. If you have leftover paychecks, make sure they belong to actual employees, not ghosts.
  • Be wary of budget variations in payroll expense. Higher-than-budgeted labor costs can indicate ghost employees.

Arguably, in smaller organizations, this type of fraud may be difficult to complete.  But, at the Mark Twain Museum, staff had been cut from 49 to 17 — two years before the fraud even started!  Suffice it to say, being smart about transactions of your organization and behaviors of co-workers is extremely important!

– Kate


A couple weeks ago we did a poll on unpaid internships and whether or not Musely’s readers were happy to work for free or were regretting their glorified slavery.

Check out the charts below and learn about Musely readers and their internships.

As a 20-something, my friends and I like to daydream about the future. What kind of great careers we’ll develop, how well we plan on aging and how awesome our dream houses will be. While most of my friends are years away from taking the dive into a mortgage, it’s still a hot topic of conversation.

Everyone is looking for something different. My husband and I often dream about a home in DC, on the metro, with a big yard and lots of character and history. But a close friend recently told me that she and her husband want a brand spankin’ new house, something that they helped design themselves, that no one has lived in before them.

Repairing existing residential buildings produces about 50 percent more jobs than building new. (Photo: Flickr user AdamFranco/

I understand why people might lean towards brand new. The thought of a “fixer-upper” can be overwhelming and chances of hauntings are higher in older homes (just kidding! OR AM I!?) But stop! There are soooooo many positives to buying a historic/older home or renovating/rehabilitating an existing structure:

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We’ve all had an internships or two (or 3). Some are paid, most aren’t. Check out Musely’s most recent post on Paid/Unpaid Internships and then take our poll. We’re curious about how many of our Musely readers have worked for free…

More than a million Americans work as interns every year. Around half of these are unpaid.

Internships are common. For students or recent graduates, it’s great job training and a way to get your foot in the door. For the company/organization hiring interns, it’s a way to share knowledge, get fresh new faces/ideas and free (oh so awesomely free) labor.

Precious memories from my Congressional internship. Nick, me & Jason in front of the US Capitol. This internship was "paid" - I got a monthly stipend that covered 2/3 of my rent. Awesome. Photo Credit Annie Erling Gofus

We’ve all been there (or, most of us have). Sometimes these internships can lead to a job [both of the full-time jobs I’ve had since graduation started as internships (one paid, one unpaid)], other times it can leave the intern feeling violated. For example, two interns for the film Black Swan are filing an open class-action lawsuit against Fox Searchlight Pictures. The former interns claim that they were doing regular tasks beside paid employees, and now they’re suing for back-pay.

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