“She’s just a wolf in sheep’s clothing”

Looks like another bookkeeper may have forced their employer to declare bankruptcy. Karen Tripp allegedly embezzled $1.5 million from Seiler-Nabors Construction Company, based in Collierville, Tennessee. The indictment states that Tripp wrote checks to her personal bank account as well as the antiques store that she owned. She also allegedly used the money to buy her children cars, build a mansion and take exotic vacations.

Collierville’s population is just under 45,000. I am sure the Seiler-Nabors bankruptcy will create a sizable ripple effect across the community. The company has already fired 20 employees which will obviously have a direct impact on a number of families.

Christy Klink worked alongside Tripp. She shared her thoughts with Memphis reporters regarding the indictment.

“It’s not going to change anything that happened or change the financial problems it has caused us. It does give us some satisfaction to know she is going to spend a lot of time in jail.”

Klink may be in for a rude awakening if Tripp is found guilty or “cops” a plea. In reality “a lot of time in jail” may not amount to much. It is probably Tripp’s first offense, and I would guess that she’ll serve 2 to 4 years. She’ll probably be ordered to pay the money back and it sounds like there may be some assets that can be liquidated. But, when the IRS comes knocking for the taxes on the $1.5 million (I doubt that Karen declared all of her income), they’ll likely jump to the head of the line demanding payment.

This case is just another example of how fraud can destroy a business. Ultimately, there are very few “winners”. In addition to closing the business and putting 20 people out of work, trust was lost. Trust that their employee was honest. Trust that their mother’s gifts and new house were earned and not stolen, and trust that if you work hard and do the “right thing” for your employees and the community that you’ll be rewarded.

Christy Clink’s father is a part owner of Seiler-Nabors Construction. Clink told reporters that her father had hoped that the company would pay for his retirement.

“He lost my mom about three years ago. He’s not really gotten over that and this comes and destroys him. She’s taken everything. He’s going to lose it all.”

This story involves a small company, but the “lessons learned” can apply to companies of all sizes. If you learn only one thing from this post, please monitor employees that issue payments. This case involved checks, but fraud can just as easily happen with wires, debit cards, credit cards, ACHs and of course cash. When was the last time that you reviewed your bookkeeper’s work? Do you reconcile your company’s bank statements on a daily basis? Who has access to blank checks?

Remember: You can trust but always verify.

 

Need a writer that understands fraud? When you hire me to write an article, blog post, newsletter or white paper you get an accomplished writer that is also an expert in fraud.

 

paul@mccormackwrites.com

 

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About Paul McCormack
I have over 20 years of experience in corporate fraud and intellectual theft prevention, detection and investigation. Unlike many fraud experts, I have both industry and professional services experience. To date, I have conducted over 800 interrogations of fraud suspects including numerous senior corporate executives. As a freelance writer, I have written over 1,000 articles on a broad range of topics. My areas of expertise include: • Asset Misappropriation • Big Data • Bribery, Corruption, and Collusion • Check, Wire, ACH, and Credit Card Fraud • Consumer Fraud • Corporate Security • Cybersecurity • Data privacy (Europe, Brazil, Russia, India, and China) • Drug Trafficking • Embezzlement • Employee Fraud • Executive Protection • Fintech • Financial Statement Fraud • FCPA • Healthcare fraud • Identity Theft • Intellectual Property Theft • Internal Audit • Interrogation Tactics • Loss Prevention • Mobile Fraud • Money Laundering • Operational Excellence • Organized Crime • Payments Fraud • PCI Compliance • Retail Fraud • Risk Management • Terrorism and Counterterrorism • UK Bribery Act • Workplace Violence

8 Responses to “She’s just a wolf in sheep’s clothing”

  1. This is an excellent read as usual. Paul thanks for the insight and the blog…

  2. Pingback: “She’s just a wolf in sheep’s clothing” « Fraud Happens « ecnbsolutions

  3. ecnbsolutions,

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I really appreciate the feedback!

    Paul

  4. Mike Wilson says:

    This is terrible, but not the first time I’ve heard of such a thing.

  5. Hi Mike,

    It is terrible. Unfortunately, we have added many, many similar cases to our fraud database this year.

    Thanks for reading the post and sharing your thoughts.

    Paul

  6. Retirement Gone says:

    I enjoyed your blog post Paul. This has a direct connection to me. This woman has worked for this family for over twenty years and was a trusted part of the “family”. She has ruined our lives. I hope she gets more time than you think.

  7. “Retirement Gone”,

    I am truly sorry that you had to experience such a traumatic event. It is never easy to deal with the aftermath of a fraud, especially one of this magnitude. I don’t know if it is possible to “get over” it, but over time, hopefully it will be easier to deal with.

    I can tell you that you are not alone. I can see “behind the scenes” that a number of people are searching on Google for the “Seiler-Nabors fraud” etc and finding this blog post. I would suspect that there are a lot of very angry ex-employees in Collierville that want to understand how it could happen to their company.

    Please know that there are many people just like me that want to help small and medium size companies stop fraud. I can’t help in this situation, but hopefully this post will help prevent a similar fraud at another company.

    I wish you, and everyone impacted by this situation the very best. 2012 is just around the corner. Life has a funny way of opening doors to new opportunities just when you need them…

    Best regards,

    Paul McCormack

  8. Pingback: $2.7 million embezzled from Arizona National Guard « Fraud Happens

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