Blank Check

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A clock with tax time sticky note and calculator on the desk.

Giving someone a blank check is like giving them financial freedom. The recipient fills in the dollar amount and the owner of the checking account pays up. (Obviously, this is a dangerous position to be in if you are the owner of the checking account.) A longtime employee of a Columbia, S.C., insurance agency forged signatures on more than 300 blank checks belonging to a client of the agency. She not only got into major trouble for embezzlement, but also for tax fraud when she didn’t pay taxes on the illegal income.

The 57-year-old fraudster from Saluda worked for the agency for three decades (That’s quite a breach of trust). For at least the last 11 years, she forged signatures on checks drawn on the client’s checking account, which was under the care of her employer, according to the case against her. When the insurance company found out she embezzled $611,845.39, she was fired immediately. (Aren’t you dying to find out what she used more than $600,000 for?) The South Carolinian used the embezzled funds to pay her bills, car payments and her mortgage. (Everyone should be so lucky to have $600,000 in blank checks.)

Court documents reveal that today’s fraudster eluded detection by removing pages from bank statements with copies of the forged checks and recorded false entries in accounting records. (Sounds like she was good at hiding her crime since it went on for more than a decade.) Investigators found that she also lied on her tax returns over five years and neglected to pay $78,892.

The Saluda woman pleaded guilty to tax fraud after admitting she did not pay taxes on the more than $600,000 she embezzled (It’s hard to get that kind of cash past the IRS). When she signed her confession, she agreed to repay the amount she had stolen. (The government has frozen her bank account to collect proceeds from the sale of her home. She also has a collection agency after her for an unpaid $5,663.60 credit card bill.) At sentencing, she faces three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. (You can be sure that most of the checks written by today’s fraudster soon will be made payable to Uncle Sam. No more blank checks).

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “Saluda woman pleads guilty to tax fraud after embezzling $612K” published by Index-Journal on May 7, 2019.

Brenda Rodgers spent more than three decades working at an insurance company.

But the 57-year-old Saluda woman’s employment came to an abrupt end in May 2016 — after her employer determined she had embezzled more than $600,000.

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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.