Whatever happened to brand loyalty?
Meet Vanessa Vence-Small. Up until fairly recently, she was the controller of a Connecticut BMW dealer. But now she has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and sentenced to 30 months in prison for embezzling $1.1 million from the dealership. According to Automotive News, her scheme began in October 2014 and continued until June 2017. What did she do with that stolen money? She bought a new car, of course.
Instead of picking up a new 2 Series coupe or 4 Series convertible, for example, she bought a $50,000 Ford Mustang. You know, because she didn’t want to draw too much attention. She did more than just buy the Mustang, however.
First-class vacations to Hawaii, Jamaica, Australia and Mexico for her and her husband were paid for by the stolen money, as well as home upgrades. Vence-Small’s embezzling began only 50 days after she was hired back in August 2014. And don’t think for a moment she was hurting for money beforehand because her job as the BMW dealership’s controller paid $150,000 a year. Oh, another perk was a BMW company car.
“Vanessa thrived on making it seem like she was being the hero and pointing out our flaws to improve them, while she was seeing the opportunities of how to steal from us,” dealership President Paula Callari told the court. “We were all concerned of the dealership finances and that we were not making the profits we should have been," she said. "We had to let go of many people and changed several pay plans. But month after month, nothing seemed to change and no one could figure out why. She had an answer for everything but would reassure me that things will be so much better by year-end.”
Vence-Small stole $904,659 through 65 unauthorized electronic funds transfers, which went directly to her private American Express account. She also wrote 28 bogus checks worth a total of $207,778 to pay credit card bills and the Mustang. The dealership caught Vence-Smalls in June 2017 when they noticed the financial irregularities and notified law enforcement. Once she gets out of the slammer, Vence-Small has to pay back her former employer and its insurers. So far, she’s forked over $200,000, including the $28,840 from the forfeiture of the Mustang.