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Wire fraud strikes Alaskan business

Feb 01, 2013 Dave King

ACH cards and other wire transfers have become increasingly popular with businesses across the nation and around the globe, as these electronic payments are more convenient and efficient than traditional methods of payroll and other regular transactions. However, this has offered criminals a new path to steal personal information, money and identities through cyber crimes. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently announced that a woman from Kodiak, Alaska, has been convicted in a federal court in Anchorage of two counts of wire fraud involving a scheme to embezzle half a million dollars from Trident Seafoods. According to the bureau, the woman, Jamie Fathke, was one of five to be caught for the wire fraud scheme, and was sentenced to four months for stealing $30,000 from the organization.

The leader of the crime is suspected to be Isairis Wolfe, a bookkeeper for Trident Seafoods between 2008 and 2012, who allegedly used her position to write fraudulent checks to her four accomplices. All of the checks combined added up to $500,000, and this scheme went on for more than two years undetected. U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler explained that the court in Anchorage has reached one conviction and one guilty plea thus far, while the remaining three suspects will go on trial this March.

Surprisingly, the courts have proven that each fraudulent check disbursed by Wolfe and cashed by the defendants were of high value, yet still undetected by the company.

This type of crime is incredibly commonplace in today's enterprise landscape, and is most risky when only one member of staff is in charge of handling the books. Businesses that use electronic payments should always have stringent policies regarding checks of accounts payable and receivable, as the most devastating instances of wire fraud are those that go on for years undetected.