Woman convicted of stealing $400,000 from engineering company
How could one employee steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from a company without anyone noticing for months?
The victim in this case is Frake’s Engineering. The culprit was 20-year employee Brenda Helping. As the Controller for the company, she was responsible for the finances and bills for the company.
Helping was able to accomplish this feat by creating fictitious accounts in order to pay her own bills and gambling expenses. While managing the company’s finances, Helping was able to steal $400,000.
While on vacation, another employee noticed the discrepancies in the accounts that Helping was managing.
“Her back-up was looking at some of the payments and she looked at the bills and realized a lot of the bills weren’t companies they did business with,” says Kenneth Miller, U.S. Postal Inspector.
With the help of the US Postal Office and police, officials were able to follow the money trail that led back to Brenda Helping, as well as the casinos she frequented and credit card payments. As a result, Brenda Helping was sentenced to more than two years in federal prison on mail fraud charges and was ordered to pay more than $400,000 in restitution.
“A company should always have checks and balances in place and not one person. Always check to see where money is going,” says Kenneth Miller. Postal Inspectors also advise business owners to get an annual audit done by an outside accounting firm.