VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Another woman connected with a previous fraud case from the former business Church Point Manor is facing charges.
Nakai Koyenhan pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of checks while she did the bookkeeping at the Virginia Beach business, which operated a bed and breakfast that included the restaurant The Cellars.
Koyenhan was given blank checks for legitimate business expenses for the operation, but forged 310 checks totaling more than $327,000, according to court documents.
Now, federal authorities accuse Renee Garrison of helping Koyenhan with the scheme.
Court records state Garrison allegedly received payments from Koyenhan totaling more than $80,000 of embezzled money.
According to the Statement of Facts from Koyenhan’s case, the crimes occurred between February 2014-September 2017.
It states the stolen money was used for car payments, rent, a wedding ring and several trips, including one to Nigeria.
She would change the names and amounts being paid in the books for Church Point Manor, records indicate.
News 3 spoke to Karen Morgan, a private investigator who works for Ciccotti & Buckley. She was not part of this recent case but has investigated many others. She used to investigate white-collar crimes for the FBI.
She said business owners need to be careful when it comes to who is in charge of their accounting.
"You can have one person in charge, but there needs to be some type of oversight, whether it’s a manager who is trained up on what is happening in the accounting office or another employee," said Morgan.
She said other red flags include a bookkeeper who is overly controlling and secretive of the money or perhaps someone who doesn't go on vacation.
She said to also look out for employees who are suddenly purchasing more lavish things like fancy cars or taking elaborate trips.
Morgan said many of the people involved in these types of crimes don't have a criminal record. She said they rationalize it in their mind and then realize it was easy.
"They were borrowing $25 to pay for a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk, then year later or two years later, they’re buying luxury vehicles and electronics," said Morgan.
She said auditing is so important and making sure people are double checking the books.
Garrison is facing one count of aiding and abetting, according to federal officials.
Koyenhan was scheduled to be sentenced Friday in federal court. News 3 has reached out to her attorney because we were not in the courtroom for the sentencing.
Both Garrison and Koyenhan said they had no comment about the case. Garrison said she wasn't aware of the charges.
The victim in the case told News 3 over the phone she didn't want to discuss it, but said we could send her a list of questions. However, we have not heard back.