AP audit uncovers company controller’s crimes

A North County, California, woman recently took a plea deal for nine years in prison for the embezzlement of $5.7 million from her former employer.

According to U-T San Diego, Elizabeth Ann Masters embezzled the money over the course of eight years by writing herself extra paychecks each month. The prosecutor on the case suspects she used the resources in part to fund a large ranch, where she kept 100 horses.

Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn added that Masters had been requesting donations from fellow horse owners online. She claimed to be suffering from cancer and in need of funds to care for her animals, but Winn found no record of Masters having the disease.

Sheriff's sergeant Mark Varnau claimed that Masters began embezzling funds mere weeks after her hire at Proformance Apparel Group, the San Diego Reader reported. Varnau said that in her time with the company, she had written more than 700 fraudulent checks to herself for an average of more than $8,000 each.

Thanks to an AP audit, Masters' former employer was able to discover the embezzlement. However, the story is also a reminder that companies should keep an eye out for budgetary discrepancies. Had another party been overseeing the business' accounts payable more closely, it is possible that the duplicate payments would have been discovered before millions were missing.

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