A woman working for the New York State Housing Trust Fund stole $944,000 from 2004 to 2011 by altering money orders given to her employer and depositing them in her own bank accounts. Agnes Bernier was arrested on January 19th for stealing from the Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HFTC), which helps create low-income housing through loans and grants and is funded by tax dollars. Bernier processed money orders written to her employer but wrote her own name on top of “HFTC” in the pay to line so she could deposit the money orders into her own accounts.
Bernier began this scam in 2004 and continued it through December of 2011 when she stole $7,500 from money orders written to HFTC in that month alone. She has been charged with one count each of theft of U.S. government property and bank fraud, and faces a maximum term of 40 years if convicted of both charges. Her scam was not sophisticated by any means, she simply altered money orders by hand writing her own name on top of her employer’s. But the fact that Bernier was able to repeat this fraud scheme for seven years shows that scams don’t have to be high-tech or sophisticated for the fraudster to repeat them, they need only be profitable.