Though crafty they may be, few criminals are able to embezzle funds and successfully skirt prosecution. In 2010, Marquet International produced an analysis detailing the largest embezzlement cases in U.S. history. Using the Consumer Price Index comparison for the median year each case was active, Marquet converted the amount of misappropriated funds into 2010 dollars. The following five cases are the largest since 1900.
If you met Yasuyoshi Kato in the early 1990s and wondered how he was able to afford multiple luxury homes, several high-dollar cars, and a handful of exotic animals, he’d be quick to tell you he was the secret inventor of Nintendo.
At least, that’s the story Kato used as a cover. In reality, he was writing checks to himself from accounts belonging to Day-Lee Foods, a California meat processing outfit.
Kato was 39 when he ultimately pleaded guilty to embezzling the money. He blamed his behavior on a voracious wife, Ann Beiler-Hozumi, who apparently could never have enough stuff. She was never charged in the case, however.
In 1930, Gilbert H. Beesemyer managed to bankrupt the Guaranty Building and Loan Association in Hollywood, California, an organization he founded.
While misappropriating $7.7 million may not sound like enough to bankrupt a large company today, Beesemyer’s actions had grave consequences at the time. The embezzlement literally destroyed many local businesses that depended on the building and loan association.
Of all the felony embezzlers on this list, Ricardo Carrasco is the only one still at large.
In what observers call the “Carrasco Fiasco,” the native Uruguayan disappeared in 1998 after investigators discovered he was making fraudulent loans from his employer, BankBoston, to one Oldemar C. Barreiro Laborda, a BankBoston client with a nefarious history.
Carrasco’s crimes led to the disciplinary action or termination of at least twenty BankBoston employees. While the bank recovered much of the lost funds through an insurance claim, it’s still offering a $10,000 reward to anyone with information leading to Carrasco’s arrest.
Now serving a nearly 20-year prison sentence that began in 2010, Jack Doorly lived the high life for at least seven years. Private airplanes, luxury cars, and extravagant gifts to mistresses were just part of the fun for Doorly, and it’s probably safe to say he thoroughly enjoyed himself until the jig was up.
Before he donned an orange jumpsuit, Doorly managed the assets of 100+ heirs to the fortune of Frederick Ayer, a New England industrialist who passed away in 1918. The family fired Doorly after his assistant, Kim Borans, approached one of the heirs about some apparent accounting irregularities.
All told, the embezzlement went on for at least seven years. Doorly had long since gained the trust of the Ayer family, and his management practices were never subject to any meaningful scrutiny prior to discovering the embezzlement.
Do you earn $225,000 a year? Probably not. If you did, would you steal from your employer so you could have even more money?
While that scenario might sound downright preposterous, it was an individual earning that very salary (legally!) who orchestrated the fifth largest embezzlement in U.S. history.
Ausaf Umar Siddiqui and his staff of over 100 professionals were buyers for Fry’s Electronics retail stores. A compulsive gambler who managed to rack up around $167 million in debts to Las Vegas casinos, Siddiqui misappropriated more than $60 million over four years by setting up a phony company to receive commissions from Fry’s suppliers.
He finally pleaded guilty to charges of felony embezzlement in 2011.
Adam Green advocates using enterprise fraud management software to prevent workplace crimes like embezzlement, information misuse, and IT sabotage.