An accountant working at a Georgia-based wealth administration agency pleaded responsible to embezzling $800,000 from an aged shopper affected by dementia.

Heidi Royal, 52, of Dallas, Georgia, an accounting supervisor and invoice pay supervisor at Homrich Berg in Atlanta, pleaded responsible to wire fraud and aggravated id theft, the Justice Division introduced Monday. Royal had entry to the Social Safety Quantity, usernames and passwords of an aged shopper, recognized solely as C.Okay., for C.Okay.’s funding accounts and financial institution accounts. As a part of her duties and obligations on the agency, Royal supplied skilled accounting providers and bill-pay providers to C.Okay. for greater than a decade. Through the years, she gained C.Okay.’s belief and developed an in depth private friendship together with her. Royal even instructed a co-worker on the agency that C.Okay. was like a grandmother to her. From June 2010 by way of March 2021, Royal misappropriated roughly $800,000 of C.Okay.’s cash and transformed it to her personal use.

As a part of the scheme, Royal stole C.Okay.’s annuity funds, wrote greater than 200 fraudulent checks on C.Okay.’s financial institution accounts, cast C.Okay.’s endorsement on checks, withdrew money from C.Okay.’s financial institution accounts and transformed it to her personal use, used the digital bill-pay characteristic related to C.Okay.’s financial institution accounts to divert cash, used PayPal to make digital funds to herself from C.Okay.’s financial institution accounts, impersonated C.Okay. in phone conversations with monetary establishments, and made false and deceptive entries in C.Okay.’s monetary data to make the fraud more durable to detect. Royal additionally used C.Okay.’s title and Social Safety quantity to open a secret checking account the place she hid and disguised the fraud proceeds.

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“Royal exploited the belief positioned in her by an aged shopper who was unable to handle her personal affairs,” mentioned U.S. Lawyer Kurt R. Erskine in an announcement Monday. “Our workplace continues to prosecute anybody who targets susceptible members of the neighborhood, particularly the aged.”

In mid-March 2021, when Homrich Berg realized that checks drawn on C.Okay.’s financial institution accounts had been deposited into Royal’s private accounts, the agency instantly terminated Royal and reported the matter to regulation enforcement. “Homrich Berg grew to become conscious of suspicious transactions involving a former again workplace worker involving one shopper,” mentioned a spokesperson. “Given the seriousness of the accusations, HB shortly terminated the worker and has been actively working with the shopper and regulation enforcement to make sure that the case is dealt with swiftly and appropriately. The results of this cooperation was a responsible plea entered by the previous worker. Our findings and the findings of an out of doors forensic accountant confirmed our perception that this misconduct was restricted to 1 worker and one shopper. We reimbursed the shopper for misplaced funds and consider.”

Sentencing for Royal is scheduled for Could 31.

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