Amazon announced Monday that one of its former employees, Vu Anh Nguyen, was reported to the FBI in July 2020 for “falsely issuing refunds for products ordered on Amazon.com to himself and his associates.” According to the online retailer, the U.S. Department of Justice brought charges against Nguyen on Friday for federal wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The criminal complaint notes that Nguyen worked as a Selling Support Associate based in Tempe, Az. in which he provided support to Amazon’s third-party sellers and assisted in the creation of seller listings using a “Spoofer” account, which allows Amazon employees to view and edit third-party seller accounts and manually authorize refunds. The filing states the alleged wire fraud occurred between November 2019 and February 2020 in which Nguyen used his employee access to falsely and fraudulently issue $96,508.13 in refunds to himself and others. The refunds were not requested by legitimate purchasers and the transactions involved the use of interstate wires. The scheme involved approximately 318 unauthorized refunds for orders purchased through eight Amazon accounts belonging to Nguyen and others. These included refunds for high-value items, like computers and electronics, none of which were ever returned to Amazon. Nguyen also operated two third-party seller accounts, Bullsy and ItemsQuest, where refunds were issued to orders he was shipping to various locations including his own home.
BOSTON – Two former employees of eBay, Inc. pleaded guilty today to their roles in a cyberstalking campaign targeting the editor and publisher of a newsletter that eBay executives viewed as critical of the company. Stephanie Popp, 32, of San Jose, Calif., eBay’s former Senior Manager of Global Intelligence, and Veronica Zea, 26, of San Jose, Calif., a former eBay contractor who worked as an intelligence analyst in eBay’s Global Intelligence Center (GIC), pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young scheduled sentencing for Feb. 25, 2021. Popp and Zea were charged along with co-defendants Brian Gilbert, 51, of San Jose, Calif., a former Senior Manager of Special Operations for eBay’s Global Security Team and Stephanie Stockwell, 26, of Redwood City, Calif., the former manager of eBay’s GIC. Gilbert and Stockwell are scheduled to plead guilty on Oct. 29, 2020.
City auditors in Austin, Texas, say a former public library employee fraudulently bought $1.5 million in printer toner, stole at least $1.3 million worth and then sold it online. Auditors got a tip in March 2019 that Randall Whited was storing the stolen printer toner in his garage until he could sell it, according to a 72-page report dated October 2020. Whited was an accounting associate for the Austin Public Library and was responsible for making and approving purchases, cash receipts, billing and other accounting transactions, the report said. The report also said Whited had access to ten library credit cards and put at least $18,000 on them to buy items that appeared to be for personal use — including video games, virtual reality headsets, robotic vacuums and a drone. The report said auditors reviewed a sampling of receipts, purchase orders and other supporting documents and found “found multiple examples of inadequate records” — including some that were altered or showed his home as the shipping address.
HOUSTON – A 66-year-old Texas man has been ordered to federal prison after he admitted to wire fraud in his connection to stealing millions from a Deer Park corporation, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. James Arthur Camp, New Braunfels, pleaded guilty June 4. Today, U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas ordered Camp to serve a 48-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard from the company’s chief legal officer who detailed how Camp was to obtain approval for the fraudulent invoices he submitted. In handing down the sentence, Judge Atlas noted Camp made grievous mistakes in setting up his scheme and letting it get so big for long. The court ordered he pay restitution in the amount of $11,256,712.54. “For 19 years, Camp took advantage of his employer by embezzling more than $10 million, separate from his paycheck,” said Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates the ramifications of a man’s years-long commitment to greed, deception and selfishness. This case should remind citizens that every action has a consequence, as Camp will now be held accountable for his actions.” At the time of his plea, Camp admitted that from April 1998 through November 2017, he defrauded Lubrizol Corporation of $9,256,712.54. During the scheme, he submitted fraudulent invoices for laboratory services from two companies he owned, knowing they had not been performed.
Tracy Cox sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud. Tracy Cox, 52, of Hammond, Indiana, is scheduled to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on Jan. 5 to serve a two-year sentence for wire fraud. A former office manager of an Indiana trucking company was sentenced to two years in federal prison for orchestrating an elaborate $382,000 money transfer scheme, according to prosecutors. Tracy Cox, 52, of Hammond, Indiana, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana on Wednesday. She had pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in November 2019. Cox must serve two years of supervised release once she finishes her prison sentence. She must also repay nearly $382,000 she allegedly stole from her former employer, Corico Inc. of Gary, Indiana, over a seven-year period. “When an employee takes advantage of an employer’s trust to steal from the employer, the consequences can have a trickle-down effect for the employer and the other employees, costing jobs and causing economic hardship,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II in a statement.Cox admitted to approving more than 400 unauthorized money transfers for her personal use over a seven-year period, from May 2011 to July 2018. She reportedly did that by accessing the Comdata payment system the company used to pay truck drivers for fuel and cash advances.
Heath D. Shelton of Smithton, Illinois, has pleaded guilty to a single-count information charging him with making a false statement to obtain federal disability compensation under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. According to court documents, Shelton, 36, started receiving federal disability payments in 2012. After injuring his back as a letter carrier with the United States Postal Service. In late 2019, he began working on a part-time basis at Complete Family Chiropractic & Wellness, his fiancé’s clinic located in Freeburg, Illinois. Shelton’s disability forms required him to disclose this side job so that his earning potential and overall compensation could be adjusted. But, in an effort to avoid a reduction of his benefits, Shelton failed to disclose his work at the clinic and falsely reported that he had not worked or had any involvement in any business enterprise during the relevant time period. As a result of his plea, Shelton will lose all disability benefits going forward.
Champaign County Woman Indicted for Alleged Embezzlement of More Than $600,000 from Former Employer; Filing False Tax Returns
URBANA, Ill. – A grand jury has indicted the former office manager of a Champaign, Ill., contractor supply company on charges that she allegedly embezzled more than $600,000 from her employer over five years and filed false income tax returns. The indictment, returned Oct. 7, charges Joan L. Chenoweth, 57, of Tolono, Ill., with embezzling money from Illini Contractor Supply from May 2013 to February 2018. The indictment alleges that Chenoweth, who had control of the business’s financial records as well as control and access to the business’s credit cards and bank account, wrote unauthorized vendor checks to herself or to cash payable from Illini Contractor Supply’s bank account; wrote unauthorized payroll checks to herself that exceeded her salary; and, used the business’s credit cards to make payments to her personal credit cards. She allegedly used her position as office manager to avoid detection by making false entries in the business’s financial records and omitted true and correct entries. As a result of the alleged scheme, the business suffered a loss of approximately $624,152.
SAN DIEGO – Antonia Barber, the former operations manager for Carlsbad-based contractors’ insurance company Target Financial and Insurance Services, was sentenced in federal court yesterday to 21 months in prison for stealing $726,060.75 from the company. Sentencing documents reflect that Barber held a sensitive position at Target Financial, where she was permitted to approve reimbursement requests from employees, issue reimbursement checks, pay vendors, and report to the owner as to the financial condition of the company. In 2008, Barber began writing hundreds of checks to a family member for bogus “Records Management” services that were never provided. Barber’s conduct escalated to writing herself checks for nonexistent “expense reimbursement,” totaling over $600,000. Barber went so far as to report to the owner that the company was struggling financially, causing the owner to infuse money into the company to keep people employed and the business afloat. Barber’s scheme went on for seven years until the owner caught on to her theft, and reported it to law enforcement.
OAKLAND – Dominic Deandre Gregory has been charged in a criminal complaint with wire fraud in connection with a scheme to raise money with an online campaign purporting to raise money for the funeral of fallen officer Patrick Underwood, announced U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson and Acting Special Agent in Charge Shawn M. Bradstreet of the U.S. Secret Service San Francisco Field Office. According to the complaint filed September 28, 2020, and unsealed today, Gregory, 27, of Washington D.C., was a Special Police Officer in the District of Columbia when he created the online campaign. Gregory used the website GoFundMe to create the campaign and represented on the website and in communications to donors that he was a family member of Officer Patrick Underwood. Gregory also stated on the website that the campaign was created to raise money for Officer Underwood’s funeral.
Former Federal Government Contract Officer Sentenced to Prison for Accepting Bribes: Defendant Worked at General Services Administration
WASHINGTON – Ronnie Simpkins, 68, of Lusby, Maryland, a former government contract officer with the General Services Administration (GSA), was sentenced to a 21-month prison term on a federal bribery charge stemming from a scheme in which he accepted bribes from government contractors from August 2011 to August 2017. Simpkins pled guilty to the charge on December 19, 2019. According to the government’s evidence, from 1989 until May 2019, Simpkins was employed by the General Services Administration (“GSA”) as a Contract Specialist, informally known as a Contracting Officer, in procurement related positions, and between August 2013 and May 2019, he worked as a Contract Specialist assigned to GSA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. From February 2010 to August 2017, Simpkins was assigned to a sub-division of the Federal Acquisition Service, which oversees the administration of GSA Schedule 70 contracts. “Schedules” are long-term government-wide contracts with commercial companies that provide access to commercial products and services at fair and reasonable prices to the government. “Schedule 70 contracts” provide IT solutions, services, and software to federal, state, and local customer agencies. GSA pre-negotiates the vendors’ pricing, terms, and conditions, to streamline the acquisition process while at the same time providing the best value to the end user agency.
GREAT FALLS – The finance manager for William Tempel Construction today was arraigned on wire fraud charges alleging she stole more than $565,000 through a scheme of false and inflated subcontractor invoices billed to a client, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said. Lynn Bapp Tempel, 59, pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of wire fraud as charged in an indictment. If convicted of the most serious crime, Tempel faces a maximum 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston presided. Tempel was released pending further proceedings. The charging documents are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The indictment alleges that Tempel managed the finances for William Tempel Construction, which entered into a contract to build a $4.41 million residence in Great Falls for a client. Beginning in May 2013, the indictment continues, Tempel inflated invoices from subcontractors on the project and provided those inflated invoices to the client for payment.
Former Stony Brook University Professor Sentenced to Prison for Stealing Cancer Research Funds: Used Government Funds to Make Personal Mortgage and Tuition Payments
Geoffrey Girnun, a former Associate Professor and cancer researcher at Stony Brook University’s Department of Pathology of Medicine, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Denis R. Hurley via videoconference to one year and a day in prison for theft of government funds related to a grant he received to research the effect of certain molecules on cancer. Girnun pleaded guilty in January 2020 and pursuant to his plea agreement agreed to forfeit $225,000 and resign from his position at Stony Brook University. The Court also ordered restitution to be paid to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Stony Brook University in the amount of $225,000.