Manitoba

Employee defrauded Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries of $275K, police say

A 51-year-old woman has been charged with defrauding the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation of $275,000 over the past four years.

More than 300 instances of fraud, theft and money-laundering found during investigation, officers say

Winnipeg police have charged a 51-year-old woman with fraud, money laundering and mischief. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

A 51-year-old woman has been charged with defrauding the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation of $275,000 over the past four years.

Winnipeg police were contacted by the Crown corporation in May 2019 about suspected fraud by an employee within the casino tours department.

The questionable transactions were initially discovered in an audit by Liquor and Lotteries, police said.

Winnipeg police found more than 300 incidents of fraud, theft and money-laundering between April 2017 and April 2019, they said.

The woman, a marketing co-ordinator at the Crown corporation, helped run the Casinos of Winnipeg tour packages involving various bus companies that provided transportation, police said.

Part of the payments to the bus operators is based on the number of people booked for each tour. Invoices and computer data were altered to show inflated passenger counts, police said.

Police allege trips were also falsified, resulting in overpayments being approved to several tour bus companies. The bus companies, however, weren't aware they had been overpaid, police spokesperson Const. Dani McKinnon said.

"The tour operators were unsuspecting when they were then directed to make payments based on their existing business relationship" with the woman, the Winnipeg Police Service said in a news release.

McKinnon called it a complex process that involved following a money trail with multiple layers.

In essence, the woman had control of the travel manifests and manipulated them in the computer, McKinnon said. She also had outside business arrangements with the tour companies, some involving her own bus company, which created an avenue for her to reclaim the overpayments, she said.

"She clearly took advantage of these smaller tour companies that perhaps did not have robust accounting procedures. She controlled and manipulated all of the invoicing and scheduling," McKinnon said.

The woman was charged March 2 with fraud, laundering proceeds of crime and mischief to data.

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Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story said police allege money from falsified trips didn't go to the bus companies. In fact, police clarified the bus companies were paid, but were not aware they had been overpaid.
    Mar 19, 2021 3:27 PM CT

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