This is a feature story from the August issue of our Insider Signal Plus Newsletter in which iThreat and Michael Gips share our insights on important stories about insider threat incidents and how organizations can prevent, reduce, and respond to similar insider threat incidents. Would you like to make sure you are aware of insider and other threats facing your organization? Need to figure out who is behind the aliases, groups, websites, and communities targeting your executives, key staff, intellectual property, sensitive information, facilities, business reputation, brands, and business continuity? SignalAlert Monitoring and Investigations Programs help our clients address these problems and more.
Feature image via Zak Bennett of DailyMail.com via DailyMail.co.uk; Puglisi walking out of Sam Gibbons United States Courthouse in Tampa, Florida, with his lawyers Anthony Rickman and Nicholas Glance.
Ralph Puglisi, 59, an accountant at the University Medical Service Association, a nonprofit affiliated with the University of Southern Florida, pleaded guilty to stealing almost $13 million and laundering most of it through his stepson’s fiancée’s adult website, mygirlfund.com. Puglisi, of Palm Harbor, Florida, allegedly arranged for the fiancée to keep 40 percent of the funds spent on the site and return 60 percent to him.
- Puglisi made the illicit charges on two company credit cards while working as an accounting manager for UMSA.
- Puglisi had 22,000 interactions with the adult website, including 2,800 visits to his stepson’s fiancée’s profile over two years.
- As a result of the ongoing fraud, UMSA’s internal auditor was fired, as was Puglisi’s supervisor.
- No one detected Puglisi’s actions until leaders at USF Health questioned rising costs.
- A deeper investigation revealed Puglisi used two Vanilla Visa gift cards, one for $8.9million and another for $2.5million, to launder the money.
- The scheme, which lasted six years, succeeded because Puglisi had exclusive control of UMSA’s credit card programs.
- A report prepared by consulting firm Protiviti found that Puglisi had sole authority to create new credit card accounts, adjust spending limits, control card access, and close accounts.
- In his plea agreement, Puglisi admitted that he concealed credit card charges that actually paid for personal rent payments, home renovations, travel, and other expenses.
- Puglisi made false journal entries indicating that the illicit charges were valid business expenses.
- According to the Tampa Bay Times, UMSA lacked antifraud protocols.
- Annual audits failed to detect the scheme.
- UMSA says it has since stiffened antifraud controls, including upgrading financial reporting systems.
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