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Woman swipes $1.5 million and splurges on flights, Carnival cruises, Florida cops say

Woman swipes $1.5 million and splurges on flights, Carnival cruises, Florida cops say

JACKSONVILLE A bookkeeper in north Florida kept meticulous records on the job, even as she was swindling nearly $1.6 million from the company, according to investigators.

It was her boss — the owner of the company — who spotted “a pattern of deceit” dating back six years, the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office reported in a Feb. 19 news release. Suspicions arose after the 36-year-old woman was terminated, officials said. She lives in Branford, about 85 miles southwest of Jacksonville.

“During a financial audit, it was uncovered that (she) had illicitly obtained a credit card under the business’s name without authorization,” the sheriff’s office said. “Delving deeper into the records, investigators unearthed a trail of unauthorized transactions dating back to 2018. … (She) had exploited the company’s resources for … purchases ranging from Amazon and Progressive Insurance to Carnival Cruise (Line) tickets and airline bookings.” Investigators discovered the transactions “were meticulously documented through archived business emails.” A tally of the expenses came to “a staggering $1,599,018.09,” the sheriff’s office said.

The name of the company was not revealed, but it operates nationwide and entrusts staff with “credit cards for business-related expenses during out-of-office assignments,” the sheriff’s office said. A bookkeeper was not among those authorized for such spending, officials said. “When confronted with the evidence, (the suspect) attempted to deflect blame, asserting that her actions were condoned by the business owner due to her inadequate compensation,” officials said. Company officials “vehemently refuted” that claim, the sheriff’s office said. Deputies arrested the woman and charged her with grand theft and fraudulent use of a credit card, officials said.

Bond was set at $1,010,000, pending a hearing to “substantiate the legitimacy of her assets for bail,” officials said.

By MARK PRICE/Miami Herald

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