High-Flying Fraud

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Perhaps it’s too much temptation for some people to work for a company that accommodates the high-flying lifestyles of others. That appears to be the case for one California human resources administrator at a private airline company, whose fraud conviction was documented in the Contra Costa Times. (Human resources does not mean using other humans as resources to line your own pockets.)

According to the news account, the 45-year-old woman used her access to information about her coworkers to fraudulently secure more than $74,000 in government benefits and privately issued funds. The county prosecutors charged that over a 10-month period of time, the former airline HR manager falsely applied for unemployment insurance benefits on behalf of six company employees, got credit cards and a loan in other victims’ names, collected flexible spending benefits for healthcare and childcare without deducting the amounts from her pay, and forged a doctor’s signature to extend her own receipt of disability benefits. (Makes you wonder when she had time to do her actual job.)

In total, the California criminal racked up 26 felony counts of fraud and theft. She pleaded no contest to four of those counts, admitting to grand theft by an employee, false statements to obtain unemployment benefits, identity theft and presenting a claim with false information. (Can’t blame the weather or mechanical failure for this grounding.) For her crimes, she was sentenced to two years and eight months in a county jail and ordered to repay at least $74,200 in restitution to six of the 15 victims who came forward with evidence. The judge presiding over her case noted that she will have to pay more in restitution for nine additional victims, once they turn in their documentation.

Theft and abuse of personnel information is especially galling when committed by someone entrusted to safeguard employee records. (Is it too much to wish that the punishment is the equivalent of being wedged into a middle seat on a long flight with a crying baby on one side and someone with a bad cold on the other?) Let’s hope for fewer missed connections between right and wrong in future.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Antioch woman sentenced to jail for fraud scheme,” written by the Bay City News Service and published by the Contra Costa Times on December 28, 2015.

REDWOOD CITY — A former employee of a private airline company in San Mateo was sentenced Thursday to 2 years and 8 months in County Jail and $74,200 in damages to victims of her fraud scheme, prosecutors said.

Kathryn Wright, 45, of Antioch, was denied probation and could be ordered to pay additional restitution for more victims in the future, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Wright was a human resources administrator for Brisbane-based XOJET from July 2012 to May 2013, prosecutors said.

During this time, she had access to other employees’ personal information, which prosecutors said she used later to apply for unemployment insurance in the name of six employees.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.