EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 30, 2014

FBI: City woman stole $1M

Charged with using PayPal to take company's money

By Mike LaBella and Bill Cantwell
Staff Writers

---- — HAVERHILL — A city woman has been charged with using PayPal as part of a scheme to steal nearly $1 million from her employer, a privately-held information technology staffing company based in Massachusetts.

Anita Allen, 34, of Haverhill was indicted on wire fraud charges, according to a press release issued yesterday by United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Vincent Lisi, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Division.

Allen was previously arrested on a criminal complaint at an airport in Charleston, S.C., and has remained in custody since that time, investigators said.

According to the indictment, which happened on Wednesday, Allen worked as an accounts payable specialist with the company. The indictment said she defrauded the company over a period of more than five years by directing dozens of transfers of money from a dormant company PayPal account to a PayPal account in her own name.

Allen then forwarded the money from her PayPal account to her personal bank account and spent it on day-to-day living expenses, travel, and the purchase of several vintage automobiles, according to the press release.

Allen also charged numerous personal purchases to a company credit card, including multiple cruises on Norwegian Caribbean Lines and purchases at retailers including Amazon.com and The Disney Store, the release said.

She succeeded in hiding the fraud scheme by doctoring monthly credit card statements and falsifying entries in the accounting journals she maintained as part of her job, investigators said. In total, the fraud resulted in a loss to the company approaching $1 million, they said.

If convicted, Allen faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain to the defendant or gross loss to the victim. The government is also seeking forfeiture of classic cars purchased by the defendant.

The court indictment in the case calls for the government to seize Allen’s property, including these item listed in the court documents: $11,894 in cash, the property at 15 Spring Hill Ave. in Haverhill, a 1951 Chevrolet Fleetline sedan, a 1965 factory replica Cobra roadster, a 1967 Mustang coupe, a 1970 Dodge Challenger and a 2013 Jeep Wrangler sports utility vehicle.

The court paperwork said Allen stole the money between January 2009 and March 2014. The documents said she was employed “as an accounts payable specialist at a privately held information technology staffing company.’’ The documents did not name the company.

“As part of her job, Allen was responsible for reconciling the monthly account statements for American Express credit cards issued to certain ... employees,’’ the indictment said. “Allen was also permitted to use a corporate American Express card, issued in the name of (the company’s founder).’’

The indictment said that sometime around 2007, the company established a PayPal account to receive payments from clients.

“PayPal is an Internet-based payments and money transfer service based in San Jose, California,’’ the indictment said. “Among other things, PayPal allows users to associate their PayPal accounts with bank accounts or credit cards, and then to make purchases from vendors or to send money to other PayPal accounts .... Allen had access to the corporate PayPal account, which she ultimately used in the furtherance of the fraud scheme.’’

The case is being prosecuted by Stephen E. Frank of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.