NEWARK, N.J. – A Hunterdon County woman has admitted to stealing outstanding customer refund checks and failing to report that income on her individual tax returns, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Salomé Woolford, 49, of Lebanon, pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court. She was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of filing a false income tax return.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between May 2014 and April 2015, while working as a customer service representative for an insurance company in Warren (Somerset County), Woolford and other employees devised a scheme to steal money by identifying outstanding refund checks that had not yet been cashed. Woolford and others then accessed the accounts for those customers in the company’s computer system, electronically changed the payee information to that of one of their associates and requested new checks.
As a result, the company reissued the refund checks in the name of the new payees. Once the checks had been received and cashed, Woolford and others changed the payee information back to the original customers’ information to conceal the fraud. As a result of the scheme, the victim company suffered losses of at least $300,000.
Woolford failed to report the money she received as part of the scheme on her tax returns for years 2013 through 2015.
The wire fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The false tax filing charge carries a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As part of her plea agreement, Woolford must also pay restitution to the insurance company. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 17.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Newark Division, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Judy Ramos, and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Bryant Jackson in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sammi Malek of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.