Former Costco Employee Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Nearly $290,000 by Making False Entries in Customer Accounts
Accounts Receivables Clerk Entered Phony Purchases and Returns and Funneled the Cash into her Bank Accounts
A 20-year Costco employee pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to wire fraud in connection with her five-year scheme to steal nearly $290,000 from her employer, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. ROBIN G. CLINE, 54, of Puyallup, Washington, was employed as an Accounts Receivable Clerk at Costco’s Fife, Washington facility from 1996 until she resigned in 2016. CLINE was indicted in January 2018, following an investigation that revealed that between 2011 and 2016, she had manipulated entries in business customer accounts to steal from both Costco and its customers. U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle scheduled sentencing for September 17, 2018.
According to records filed in the case, as a Clerk in Accounts Receivables CLINE had authority to process payments, refunds and other credits for Costco business customers. Beginning in 2011, the investigation revealed that CLINE made false entries into customer accounts such as credits, refunds or charges. CLINE then used these false entries to funnel money from Costco and Costco business customers into her bank accounts and a bank account associated with her son. CLINE used false entries to steal money in multiple ways. She made false entries indicating a customer had returned an item or disputed a purchase resulting in a credit balance on the customer account. CLINE then funneled the credit balance to her bank account, not back to the business customer. Another way CLINE embezzled was to double bill customers for merchandise, and then ‘correct’ the double billing by refunding money to the customer – however, CLINE arranged for the refund to be funneled into her bank accounts or her son’s bank account.
In all, CLINE posted more than 290 false entries involving more than 100 customer accounts. CLINE has agreed to pay restitution of $289,975.
Prosecutors will recommend a two year prison term for CLINE. The ultimate sentence will be determined by Judge Settle based on a number of sentencing factors set forth in federal law.
The case was investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen P. Hobbs.