Ex-HP employee pleads guilty after defrauding company of Rs 38 Crore to buy luxury goods

Earlier this week, a 30-year-old former employee of technology company HP, Inc. (HP) pleaded guilty to stealing around $5 million (more than Rs 38 crore) from the Silicon IT company Valley and using it to buy luxury cars, jewelry and watches, federal prosecutors said. The employee, identified as Shelbee Szeto, defrauded her own business with money laundering and related tax charges as part of a scheme to defraud her former employer out of more than five million dollars.

According to a statement shared by U.S. Attorneys for the Northern District of California on Wednesday, Szeto was employed by HP, Inc. (HP) as an executive assistant and financial planning manager from August 2017 through June 2021. The release press release mentioned that Szeto was responsible for making payments to HP vendors and was given several HP commercial credit cards to make payments on HP’s behalf. However, instead of making the required payments according to company policies, Szeto decided to defraud his company. The press release mentions that Szeto hatched a scheme whereby she sent approximately $4.8 million in unauthorized payments from her HP commercial credit cards to multiple Square, PayPal and Stripe merchant accounts under her control.

Szeto used the money to buy luxury goods like a Tesla sedan; a Porsche sport utility vehicle; several handbags and purses from Dior, Gucci, Hermès and Chanel; and a jewelry collection including necklaces, rings, pendants and watches from luxury brands such as Rolex, Bulgari, Audemars Piguet and Cartier. The Department of Justice of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California also advised through the statement that Szeto purchased 161 items. Some of the lines include several items such as “7 necklaces with a clover-shaped design”, “6 gold necklaces with pendants” and “26 pairs of earrings”.

Szeto created fake merchant accounts with PayPal, Stripe, and Square that she kept under her control, but represented for legitimate sellers. Szeto also sent credit card payments to fake accounts. The former HP financial planning manager also uploaded fake invoices into HP’s internal system and falsely told her employer that payments had been made to legitimate vendors. “She also made false statements to Square that payments sent from credit cards were being sent to HP’s authorized vendors for legitimate business transactions and falsely represented to her bank that HP’s money was for legitimate business transactions,” the statement added.

Szeto’s sentencing will be announced in July and she is expected to face ten years in prison and a fine of $2.50,000 (Rs 1.9 crore) for money laundering.

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