One time, many years ago, my mother went out of town. Because I was a poor high schooler, and because I got sick of driving my sweet Pontiac Bonneville around all the time, and because my mom had a full tank of gas, I was driving her car around and about. No big deal. Well, while I was doing that, someone else, who shouldn't have been, was cruising up and down the block in my car. When I got home, and was walking into the house, I noticed that all the lights were lit on the dashboard. I noticed that it was still in gear. And when I pushed the eject button, I noticed that there was a CD that I would never listen to in the CD player. So I went and confronted the person that I suspected, and I wound up saying a not really famous line "I am not so much upset that you did it, I am more disappointed that you didn't even try to cover it up."
Well, I could and should be saying that to Sujata Sachdeva. She goes by the name Sue, so I would say it like this: "Sue, I am not so much upset that you did it, I am more disappointed that you didn't even try to cover it up." By now, if you haven't already hopped over to one of the many quality search engines available and found out what Sue did, you are probably wondering what kind of tomfoolery she was involved in. Hmmm...well that's a good question. As it turns out Sue liked clothes. A lot. A lot more than she had the personal wealth to back up. But she did, however, work for a large corporation that had plenty of case to support her habit. Some of you...yes...you can see where this is going. I'll lay the punchline on you. So it should be no surprise then that recently she was accused of embezzling $4.5 million dollars from Koss Corp, the makers of fine headphones, etc.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, or even saying out loud to the guy next to you on the bus "$4.5 million dollars, wow, that's a lot of clothes." And you would be right. But I am not sure that you have begun to understand just how many clothes that really is. The reason I say that is they found a bunch of said clothes in Sue's office when they went to see what was up, many of them had their $2000-plus price tags on them. But let's not skip too far ahead. I don't want to have to Tarantino this thing and start at the end. Let's look into how it all went down.
It was pretty simple, really. Sachdeva was a major financial officer at Koss, holding a variety of titles, including some which allowed her to sign financial documents that were required to be submitted to the United States Security and Exchange Commission, which is the government branch that oversees publicly traded companies. In this capacity she obviously had access to all sorts of financial information: account numbers, balances, etc. So what she would do was go out shopping, ring up big bills at fancy-pants stores that like to call themselves "boutiques" and "jewelers" and "salons" and other things that I would be tempted to put in "quotation marks." Anyway, she would go there, charge Lady Rebecca-esque amounts of money to her American Express card, and then make wire transfers from Koss Corp accounts to pay off the balances.
American Express, of course, noticed this, and so they called up Koss CEO Michael J. Koss and said "Hey, ummm...I don't know if you know this but someone is wiring huge amounts of money from your corporate accounts to pay off their credit card bills. Oh, and that someone is Sujata Sachdeva." I would assume that Koss' answer was somewhere along the lines of "Hey, thanks for doing me that solid, American Express. You're the best." He then proceeded over to Sue's office where he found the aforementioned piles of clothes. Some with the price tags still on. Oh, and there were AmEx statements. Ouch. The scene was similar at her house when authorities confronted here there. Smoking guns in abundance.
I will give Sachdeva some credit, however, because she never turned tail and tried to save herself. I mean, I am sure that she knew the gig was up but she has at least been cooperative and has sort of realized that her had was caught very much in the cookie jar, and she isn't just lying through he teeth to save herself. So that's good; I am always in favor of that sort of behavior.
I am not, however, in favor of not even trying to cover up your misdeeds. I mean, I would have at least funneled the money through some other entity so I didn't get caught. Oh, and I probably wouldn't have left my purchases just lying around for everyone to find. I would have made them at least pull some receipts and track down a storage shed in some bad part of town. Oh, and I wouldn't have left my credit card statements just hanging out on my desk or wherever, I would probably have lugged them around with me in my backpack, or briefcase or whatever I carried stuff in. Because those are evidence of the naughty things I was doing so I would want more control over who was looking at my business.
So she didn't even try. But the fact that she was so bad about covering her tracks kind of says to me that she wasn't going this to be like a greedy fuck, she was doing this because she had a sort of shopping addiction and was in desperate straits. That still doesn't excuse what she did. $4.5 million dollars of the course of a year or two is pretty significant to a company that only made $2 million in profit last year. They immediately set up an inquiry into exactly how much she embezzled and how she did it and for how long. And they have asked Nasdaq, where they are traded, to suspend trading of their shares until they get their figure out what is going on. Smart moves. I really hope this doesn't destroy Koss, and I really hope that she does a significant amount of time, which she won't because this is a white-collar crime but she needs to learn. And other people need to learn. I know I have learned one thing from this all. If I am a corporation, I want to have American Express. Definitely American Express.