Posted on: August 23, 2023, 07:48h.
Last updated on: August 23, 2023, 07:49h.
A former executive working for appliance manufacturer Hisense in its Australian office was a little too creative with company accounts. Aphrodite (also seen spelled as Afrodite) Myron used her position to embezzle funds to cover an online gambling habit, and will now head to prison for the next couple of years.
Myron was working as Hisense's Customer Service and Call Center Manager when she began her scheme in 2014. She kept it going until 2021, only getting caught after another employee tipped off the company.
At first, Hisense didn't want to admit that anything had happened or that it had lost over AUD3.38 million (US$2.17 million) over the course of the seven-year period. That's probably because the China-based company was too embarrassed that it wasn't able to properly manage its accounts.
However, media coverage at the time forced its hands, and Hisense, which sponsors France's Paris Saint-Germain soccer club, came clean. This led to Myron's arrest in 2022 and a subsequent date with a Victoria Court judge. After being found guilty, she returned to a courtroom on Tuesday, where she learned her fate.
Seven Years of Embezzlement
Myron had a penchant for online slots that she covered through company funds. During testimony, she acknowledged that she fell into a routine of taking the money in an effort to hit a big jackpot and pay back what she stole. It never happened.
Instead, she continued to take more funds, tricking Hisense into making deposits into 35 different bank accounts. All of them were either in her name or in the names of family members.
To pull off the scam, Myron signed off on customers' claims for reimbursements and deposited the money into the accounts. At the same time, she told those customers that their requests for compensation had been denied.
In addition, she backdated a number of claims. She convinced a new high-level executive at the company that the laws allowed consumers to file claims retroactively, even after the statute of limitations had expired. The executive bought the line.
In addition to Myron's arrest, several people lost their jobs at the company. When she finally appeared in court, she was sentenced on eight counts of “obtaining financial advantage by deception” amid a story of life-long emotional and physical suffering.
Time for an Extended Vacation
In pleading for leniency, Myron's defense team tried to argue that Hisense could absorb the losses and wouldn't suffer as much as, for example, a small business. Hisense had gross revenue of $10.16 billion last year, up from $9.26 billion in 2021.
The judge, Nola Karapanagiotidis, agreed that the company had deeper pockets, but this didn't mean that it was any less affected by the theft. She struck down the argument while recognizing that Myron was otherwise a decent person.
Because Myron accepted responsibility for her actions and made a deal, she received a lighter sentence than others might have gotten in a similar situation. Karapanagiotidis sentenced her to four years and a month in prison, but she can get out after 26 months if she behaves herself.