Federal prosecutors in Seattle claim Maersk Inc. -- owner of the MV Maersk Alabama, captured by pirates in April -- has been hit by a thief of a different sort.
First, it was pirates off East Africa.
Now, federal prosecutors in Seattle claim Maersk Inc. -- owner of the MV Maersk Alabama, captured by pirates in April -- has been hit by a thief of a different sort.
In charging papers, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office for Western Washington claim a clerk at Maersk's Sumner office stole more than $250,000 from the shipping giant through a long-running wire fraud.
Federal prosecutors have charged Sumner resident Virginia Lee Uy with wire fraud, alleging the 47-year-old bilked the company through a scheme involving falsified billing statements sent to vendors.
From June 2006 and continuing until her termination in June 2009, federal prosecutors claim Uy sent bogus check requests to obtain payments from her employer. To do so, she is alleged to have altered invoices and purchase orders for supplies, then absconded with the checks issued by Maersk.
In a separate scam, Uy allegedly over-billed Maersk for vendor services, prompting the company to send excessive payments to vendors. The vendors would then refund the excess payment to the Sumner subsidiary where Uy was employed, allowing her steal the checks and deposit them in bank accounts she controlled.
Prosecutors claim Uy repeated the frauds at least 116 times before she was caught. In total she's alleged to have made off with $263,600.
Searching Uy's workspace, investigators allegedly found faked check request forms and evidence that she had copied her supervisors' signatures in order to pass the fraudulent documents.
Days before she was fired, Uy apparently sent a check request to a metal fabricator asking that a check be sent via Federal Express. Court documents indicate federal authorities seized that package upon its arrival.
The company brought the allegations to the attention of federal investigators in September, prompting Immigration and Customs Enforcement to launch an inquiry.
Charged earlier this week, Uy has not been jailed in the case. She has not yet entered a plea.