I-Team 10 Consumer Alert: Following the money

Posted at: 08/08/2013 3:10 PM
Updated at: 08/08/2013 5:49 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

How could one employee steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from a company? The victim in this case, Frake's Engineering. U.S. Postal Inspector Kenneth Miller say the thief was Brenda Helpling, a 20-year employee. Miller says she was the controller, so she controlled the finances and the bills for the company.

The problem was Helpling was the only person overseeing company finances, which made it easy for her to steal $400,000.

Miller said, “She created fictitious accounts in order to pay her own bills and gambling expenses.”

The company realized there was a problem when Helpling went on vacation and another employee noticed discrepancies.

Miller said, “Her back-up was looking at some of the payments and she looked at the bills and realized a lot of the bills weren't companies they did business with.”

The company went to police and postal inspectors, who say Helpling's gambling problem help them track her down.

Miller said, “We followed the money trail and it led to Brenda Helpling and her accounts. We also went to the casinos and looked at her credit card payments.”

Postal inspectors advise all business owners to get an annual audit done by an outside accounting firm.
Miller said, "A company should always have checks and balances in place and not one person. Always check to see where money is going."