An employee at electronics company Hisense, best known in the US for its budget-priced televisions, has pleaded guilty to obtaining financial advantage by deception for her scheme to defraud the company out of over AU$3 million.
58-year-old Australian Aphrodite Minor used her position as a customer service manager to funnel funds intended for customers into her own pockets. In the court case, the prosecution detailed how she invented fake customer warranty claims between 2014 and 2021. Hisense often resolved those complaints by paying out money (a refund on a television or the like).
The money from over 1,000 resolved “claims” was routed through Minor, who, since she had made up the complaints herself, pocketed it, rather than sending it on to nonexistent customers.
In all, she stole AU$3.4 million (USD$2.3 million) and put it into 35 different bank accounts, opened in her name and the names of family members. To make matters worse, she then spent the money on gambling online. She said that winning money gambling was the way she intended to pay Hisense pack.
Minor’s lawyer painted a picture of her client facing hardships at home, dealing with “challenging” relationships in her family and stressful responsibilities when it came to both her children and her mother. It was a “perfect storm” of circumstances that drove her to crime and then to try to get away from everything through gambling.
The prosecutor argued that the planning it took to pull of the scheme and the years for which the woman operated it indicated that this wasn’t just a one-off, emotional mistake. Judge Nola Karapanagiotidis also agreed that the defendant’s actions were a huge breach of trust, but added that other than this sizeable embezzlement, she appears to be a decent person in the rest of her life.
She did not use the money to live high on the hog. In fact, she gambled away AU$4 million (USD$2.7 million) in just a four-year period.
Minor’s attorney has asked the judge for leniency, claiming that her client has PTSD and a gambling problem. It remains to be seen what Minor’s sentence will be.
Image credit: Kārlis Dambrāns via Flickr.com