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Press Release

Former employee of online car sales company pleads guilty to wire fraud for $2+million theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Disguised thefts as car transactions and falsified accounting entries

Seattle – A 41-year-old California man, who previously resided in Tacoma, Washington pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to wire fraud, for his scheme to steal more than $2 million from his employer, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. John Whisenant was arrested in July 2023. U.S. District Judge Lauren King scheduled sentencing for July 3, 2024.

According to records filed in the case, Whisenant worked in a variety of roles at the online used car sales company beginning in October 2018. About a year after he began with the company, Whisenant was promoted into a role where he had access to the company bank accounts and accounting software.

Beginning in about June 2019 and continuing until November 2021, Whisenant used his access to make 57 wire transfers totaling over $2 million into accounts he controlled. Whisenant disguised the transfers as legitimate business expenses in the company’s accounting software with a variety of false entries. Whisenant defrauded the company of $2,084,799. Whisenant then transferred the money to others and mixed it with other funds making it difficult to trace.

According to records in the case, Whisenant used some of the money for a lavish lifestyle. He bought luxury automobiles such as Porches and Mercedes. He spent $123,096 for a 2022 Audi E-Tron and bought a $98,100 Tesla. He rented luxury homes in Southern California and purchased two airline tickets to Paris at a cost of nearly $23,000 each.

The fraud on the company accounts was discovered when a bookkeeper began a more comprehensive review of the company’s financials in January 2022. Whisenant resigned abruptly in February 2022.

Prosecutors have agreed to recommend a seven-year prison sentence. Judge King is not bound by that recommendation and can impose any sentence allowed by law. Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Whisenant has agreed to make full restitution of $2,084,779.

The case is being investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sean Waite.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated March 22, 2024

Financial Fraud