If one of your employees starts billing you for astronomical business travel expenses, it may be wise to keep Eduardo Africano in mind. This 49-year-old former Rockwell Automation employee is being accused of scamming his former employer out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Journal Sentinel, pocketing money he claimed he needed for business travel.
How It Worked
Africano allegedly went so far as to create a fake travel agency he called Omega World Inc. to assist with his fraudulent activities. The Milwaukee County district attorney’s office filed a criminal complaint that outlined how the scam supposedly worked. Africano would first reportedly bill Rockwell for fake business travel expenses, with the money paid to Omega World. The next step was routing all the money from Omega into his personal checking account.
He reportedly topped off the scam by using Rockwell corporate credit cards to purchase plane tickets for personal use by himself, his friends and family. Here he submitted false travel expense reports for Latin America destinations, where he frequently traveled for his corporate duties, while he was really trekking to various locations in Mexico and California.
Resort vacations with a woman named Viviane Dara were also on his fraud list, with destinations in Mexico, Puerto Rico and hotels fairly close to his current home in Florida. While the exact nature of Africano’s relationship with Dara is unknown, it is known she’s not his wife.
Total damage was at least $225,000, investigators say, with the money embezzled from Rockwell between January 2012 and May 2014.
Why It Stopped Working
Part of Africano’s duties after he started with Rockwell in 2005 involved extensive travel to Latin America, and he was given corporate credit cards to cover expenses. While he was clever about mixing legitimate business expenses with his fraudulent activities, a regularly scheduled internal audit uncovered his scheme. An audit also discovered Africano used the same ploy to swipe nearly $93,000 between 2008 and 2011.
Africano was fired in May 2014 after the audit brought his alleged theft to light. Rockwell Automation handed over the info to law enforcement, which conducted an investigation with help from a US Secret Service agent.
Africano is facing three felony counts of theft by fraud and is described as a flight risk. He has no ties to Wisconsin, no US citizenship and has a ready-made alias of Eduardo Orozco.
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