The Fraud Examiner

Office Manager’s Fraud Case Has Familiar Ring

By Scott Patterson, CFE

February 2015

It is a story that repeats over and over in businesses around the world. A trusted office manager, over the course of several years, finds a crafty way to “redirect” company funds to a personal bank account. By the time the fraud is discovered, losses have climbed into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Such was the case with Donna Dodson, 53, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who was recently sentenced to more than five years for a scheme she perpetrated against the surgical care clinic where she worked.

According to U.S. Attorney Walt Green, Dodson was also sentenced to make restitution in the amount of $589,680.66, an estimate of the amount she stole between 2009 and 2013. Her sentence was handed down earlier this month after she pled guilty to five counts of wire fraud.

As detailed in a news release from Green, Dodson used the following strategy in her embezzlement scheme:

She created false and fraudulent entries in the company’s accounting records and software that appeared to indicate that the company owed money to various third parties.

She prepared check requests for the false entries she had created.

She fraudulently altered each check request before the check was actually printed, so that her own name would appear on the face of each check as the “payee.” 

As she obtained the checks, Dodson deposited the funds into one of her personal accounts. 

The scheme she perpetrated (and the length of time it persisted) indicates that Dodson must have been given plenty of latitude in accounting responsibilities at the clinic. As is the case at many small businesses, one can assume there was not a proper level of segregation of duties. In short, Dodson was given too much trust in her position as office manager, and there were not enough controls on her responsibilities and access. Her employer must have had no idea there was a fraudster in their midst.

Except that they probably should have had an idea. A quick Google search on Dodson finds some very interesting information – something any employer would want to know about a prospective employee.

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