A Very, Very, Very Nice Lady Did Some Fraud

Warning: This is a machine-generated transcript. As such, there may be spelling, grammar, and accuracy errors throughout. Thank you for your understanding!

Greg: This lady is the nicest lady in the history of nice ladies. One of her neighbors described her as being, and I quote, the kind of person you dream about having in life as a friend. If you were worried about her stealing, you'd also have to be worried about Gandhi and Buddha and the Virgin Mary and Santa Claus stealing from you, for Christ's sake. This lady would organize spontaneous road trips with her friends to go and do good deeds.

Caleb: Wait, what kind of good deeds?

Greg: I [00:00:30] don't, I don't know, I assume like fighting crime and ending homelessness.

Caleb: Ending homelessness?

Greg: Yeah. In my mind, she and her friends would drive from Maine to wherever homelessness is and then just end it.

Blake: If you'd like to earn CPE credit for listening to this episode, visit earmark Cpcomm, download the app, take a short quiz, and get your CPE certificate. Continuing education has never been so easy. And now on [00:01:00] to the episode.

Greg: Hello and welcome to Oh My Fraud, a true crime podcast where our criminals use adding machine tape to cover up their crimes rather than using duct tape to cover up your mouth. I'm Greg Kite and.

Caleb: I'm Caleb Newquist.

Greg: So, Caleb, before we get into it, I just want to read a listener review real quick. Is that all right by you?

Caleb: It's absolutely all right. Yeah.

Greg: Wonderful. This one comes from Apple Podcast, where listener sweet D [00:01:30] 2011 says this show is a refreshing change from stuffy trainings. I'm a cdfi and have attended a lot of trainings to keep up on my certification and they can be so boring. So with four O's.

Caleb: Four O's and.

Greg: Then she, he or she continues. Personally, I like the cursing. Don't change a thing.

Caleb: Hey, that's a great review.

Greg: Yeah, I think it's a damn great review. A hell ass damn mofo. [00:02:00] Great review.

Caleb: I could not have said that better.

Greg: I'm pretty sure you actually could have said that better.

Caleb: Okay, well, regardless if you like. Oh my. Fraud. You know, if you hell crap like it, take a minute to write a review. Wherever you listen to the show, write us a review there or rate the show. Spotify. You can't write reviews, so rate the show. If you listen on Spotify, at least.

Greg: Do that.

Caleb: And it will help other people find out of their way of other boring, stuffy trainings or just boring, stuffy podcasts. [00:02:30] Yeah, you know, you don't have to be here for the CPE. Lots of people are right. You don't have to be.

Greg: But a lot of people aren't. And we appreciate them coming here too.

Caleb: Yes, absolutely. Non CPE listeners, you are appreciated.

Greg: So Caleb, we've been doing this podcast for all we're pushing two years at this point.

Caleb: Is that a long time or not a long time.

Greg: Pretty cool. Oh, and I guess let's just do a quick pat on the back. We've had over 100,000 downloads.

Caleb: Yeah, we have.

Greg: Recently crossed that line. That's pretty that's pretty damn cool.

Caleb: So it's a milestone of some [00:03:00] kind.

Greg: It is. And again, thanks to all the listeners, those needing continuing education and what I assume is the even more who don't. Thank you all for coming and for helping make this podcast as successful as it's been. But here's what I want to ask you about Caleb. After doing this podcast about people being horrible for almost two years. Yeah. Do you feel like you've become more jaded about fraud and financial crimes, about [00:03:30] life in general?

Caleb: Oh, well, I mean, how long have you known me, Greg?

Greg: Uh, over a decade.

Caleb: Yeah. Right. Yeah. And I don't, I think I think I'm maxed out on Jadedness. Don't you?

Greg: Are you you're you. Well, you've hit peak jadedness.

Caleb: No, like mean like I don't mean maybe I was pretty much there when I started this podcast, so I don't think I'm. I don't think I'm more jaded. I'd say I am the same amount of jaded, but like, there's some [00:04:00] nuance now. Okay. Yeah. So, like, you know, recently I think we talked about how I had been thinking about how, you know, there's all this fraud going on. And we as a society, we just tolerate it. And, and we put up with it. And like that was always confusing to me. But now I'm starting to think that's all wrong. It's not that. Yeah. It's not that we're putting up with it. It just seems like a byproduct of human nature that we aren't, that we can't really do anything about. Yeah. So like, fraud is just a cost [00:04:30] of doing business. Yeah. And by cost of doing business, I think that means human existence. Right?

Greg: Right. That sounds that sounds incredibly jaded. I'm going to just I'm just going to say I think, yeah, I think you just if anyone didn't know what the word jaded means, you just very much demonstrated it for them.

Caleb: All right then. Okay. So yeah, we're working through this. It's like therapy but. Right. But I guess the way I thought about it is like if you put. Anyone. [00:05:00] Or if you put most people, the vast majority of people in the right set of circumstances and they're they're basically capable of anything. And that includes fraud. Yeah. And so like, I was thinking about our interview with, uh, Dr. Kelly Richmond Pope, episode 20, for those interested, she said, she said that we're all capable of it. Do you remember her saying that?

Greg: I absolutely do, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Caleb: And and her thing was like, we all have a number, right?

Greg: And she included [00:05:30] herself in that.

Caleb: Yeah she did, although I don't think. Did she say 10 million I think she said like 10 million.

Greg: I think she, it was a large number.

Caleb: Yeah. And yours was a small number if I.

Greg: Think mine was a very small number.

Caleb: And what else. Oh yeah. The Pappy Gate episode. That's episode eight for those. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. That guy, the perpetrator, Toby Curtsinger, he said in the documentary, which, you know, everyone should go watch. Yeah. He said that anyone in his shoes would do the exact same [00:06:00] thing. And I guess I at the time, I kind of remember thinking like, that's bullshit. Like, don't believe that anyone. But I think I'm closer to agreeing with him than I used to be. Yeah, yeah. And so, I don't know, that's that's kind of where I'm at. So apparently very jaded. Yeah. Yeah. Even more so than maybe I was. What about you?

Greg: Yeah. Yeah. No, I'm I'm definitely feeling more jaded about fraud in general. Um, specifically, I know some of the things that I definitely have become more jaded on because of this podcast [00:06:30] is like, I, I, I really doubt that audits and auditors are effective and not. And I mean, and I know that sounds shitty towards auditors, but it's not it's not them. It's the job. And I just can't. Because here's the thing. And again, this is going to sound really shitty and I'll and I'll take it. But I honestly think that auditors are checklist jockeys who who work like ridiculously long [00:07:00] hours. And because of those long hours, I feel sorry for them. And they just want to go home. And and so with that. So I think their methods aren't, aren't effective at detecting fraud, I think and again, even just from my experience with assurance work, it seems like the thing that they are effective at is did you categorize shit correctly according to the standards? That seems like that's all my notes that come back to him. Or it's like, you know, stuff like, oh, you were supposed [00:07:30] there was this one, you know, what was the thing that came up with me with a rent? If the contract says that every year the rent goes up by a little bit, you're supposed to average that out and figure out what it is every month for the entire term of the lease. And you recognize that average amount, not the different amount it is every month. It's just like, okay, I don't think that's a material misstatement, but at the same time, they thought it was. And so we so it wasn't like it wasn't. And actually the [00:08:00] way that they made us change that particularly made our financial statements less useful to us. So yeah. So anyways, so, so I think.

Caleb: Real real big value add there. Yeah.

Greg: And so so again I get it. They're there. And if they weren't there people would be monkeying with their financial statements a ton. So I get I get that I get that they're important. But I just don't think that they're doing the job that we expect them to do. And we've had many, many episodes and many interviews with a lot of people [00:08:30] that really get deeply into that. But the biggest thing is I don't I know that external auditors do not they don't they don't detect fraud. That's just not something that happens.

Caleb: Right. And they and so that we kind of like stem the, the, the hate mail that we'll get because of that. The rules say that they, like an auditor will tell you that they aren't responsible for detecting fraud. Right, right. But the rules when they when you read the rules [00:09:00] about auditors detecting material misstatements, it says whether due to error or fraud. Right. So like the qualification or the equivocation of that is where the audit profession basically has to occupy and they have to like just toe that line forever until the end of time. Right.

Greg: But but I'm also jaded, Caleb, because because now I this is this is new for me. Caleb. Okay. Now [00:09:30] I, I can't think of anyone in my life at all who I'd be surprised about if they were accused of committing fraud like no one. Oh, yeah. Listen, if if my mom was charged with committing fraud, I could honestly say that I didn't see it coming. But I'd also say that. That I could believe it. Sorry, mom. Who doesn't listen to this doesn't last. Doesn't listen. But but I could, I could believe, I could believe it's because the pressure side of. The fraud triangle [00:10:00] is always there. If someone has the opportunity to steal, there's always going to be some pressure because more money is better than less money. As and as humans, we have the capability. And this is the other thing we've seen of rationalizing anything. Yes. It's just and it's not just having a number like Kelly Richmond Pope says, you know, like, what's the number that you'd be like, okay, I got to steal that money. If there's no consequences. It's the fact that more money is better than less money. And and [00:10:30] it's the fact that ego depletion is real. Because if the opportunity to steal is present, you can have a shitty enough day or go through a rough enough patch. And I'm not necessarily talking rough financially, but I'm talking maybe rough emotionally that you that you're just you're just done and you steal some shit. Yeah.

Caleb: You're like, fuck it.

Greg: Yeah. Well, if you're if you're a regular listener to this podcast and you're not yet feeling jaded like Caleb and I are, this episode, I think, is the one [00:11:00] that'll push you over the edge, because today's case is all about a saintly lady in a tiny community in central Maine and in small towns. Caleb, you know this. Everybody knows everybody's business and everybody knows everybody's dirt. But not only did nobody know this fraudster's dirt, a lot of people in the community, even after her conviction, still refuse to believe that she could have possibly stolen over a half $1 million.

Caleb: Believe [00:11:30] it or not, tax collector is still an actual job. Everybody knows that tax collectors were Jesus's second favorite type of professional to hang out with. But personally, I've never had an interaction with a modern day tax collector.

Greg: Nor have I.

Caleb: Okay, anyway, today's story. As we mentioned earlier, takes place in the great state of Maine. The Pine Tree State and every [00:12:00] municipality in Maine has a municipal tax collector who's responsible to collect the excise taxes related to the registration of, quote, aircraft, house trailers and motor vehicles.

Greg: Our story today takes place in Ansan, a little tiny town in central Maine. Its population has never reached 3000 people. It hovers closer to 2500, and according to its Wikipedia page, Caleb, there are exactly three notable people who have ever come out [00:12:30] of Ansan. Two were state legislators and one was an Old Testament scholar. So, oh, the sexiest of notable people have come straight from Anson, Maine. It's nice that they're not fantastic. They're state legislators. And as a matter of fact, one of the two state legislators not in the state of Maine in a different state. I'm pretty sure it was Michigan, if I remember right. Oh that's amazing. Yeah, but but one of the many not notable people from Anson is a delightful, grandmotherly [00:13:00] woman named Claudia Viles. Claudia was born in 1949. She graduated from high school from Anson Academy in 1967, and she earned her associates degree from Thomas College in Waterville, Maine, which is just about 20 miles southeast of Anson. So very close. She did not have a she had a tight radius of of life experiences. She married her high school sweetheart, Glen Viles, [00:13:30] and the two of them lived in Anson, where they raised their three children and Glen. Her husband, owned both a trucking business and a garage located in surprise Anson. And apparently from what? From what I found. Claudia and Glen have this idyllic marriage. Glen says that Claudia is his best friend and the rock that their family relies on. Oh yeah. Sweet. I mean, I mean, seriously, they they seem like they [00:14:00] are like they've got each other's back and they love the hell out of each other.

Caleb: As someone who comes from the main of the High Plains.

Greg: Nebraska.

Caleb: Yes. Um, from a town approximately the size of Anson, Maine. Okay. I essentially know these people. Yeah, yeah. Very much. Sure. And so, yeah.

Greg: Yeah, I think everybody has someone pictured in their mind. Yeah, [00:14:30] that.

Caleb: And it's from their.

Greg: Own life. Yeah, that is Claudia. So. And then wait. So way back in 1973, Claudia Viles was hired as the treasurer of the town of Anson. And then nine years later, in 1982, she was elected as the city's tax collector, a position to which she was reelected for 33 years.

Caleb: In 2009, tragedy struck the Viles family when their [00:15:00] son Michael died of a drug overdose. But even while Claudia was grieving the loss of her son, she still took the time to comfort a friend whose daughter had attempted suicide. That friend described Claudia as a, quote, compassionate person who cares deeply about others even when her own life is in turmoil.

Greg: This is this is like a this is like a heart rending episode. Yeah.

Caleb: After her son's death, Claudia applied for and was [00:15:30] awarded guardianship of his four year old son. One of her six grandchildren. Claudia raised him until she was able to reunite him with his mother, who had been unable to care for him when Michael died. And so obviously, we're talking about a very caring and compassionate human being. Yeah. Here's a here's a quote from the Kennebec. Kennebec.

Greg: I think it's Kennebec, Kennebec Journal.

Caleb: Quote. She was known for comforting the sick and those diagnosed with cancer, sending [00:16:00] cards to friends even though they lived in the same town, sharing books on grief, showing up at the door with homemade soup or an offer to go for a walk, and remembering to text one woman who had lost her mother on Mother's Day. Oh, jeez. Yeah, knowing that would be a tough time for her, right?

Greg: Understatement.

Caleb: Understatement.

Greg: It's going to be kind of tough. Oh, geez.

Caleb: There's another story about a group of sisters who, after moving from Anson to Oklahoma, needed to escape their abusive father. So Claudia paid for their plane tickets to bring them back to Maine. [00:16:30] The sisters credit her Claudia, with saving their lives.

Greg: Who is this.

Caleb: Woman? Don't know. This is fucking a fucking hero. Amazing. Yeah.

Greg: Yeah, yeah. I mean, she I mean, if you want to talk about a hometown hero. Yeah, this is her. And they need to. They need to rename the high school Claudia Viles.

Caleb: High school. High school? Yeah. Yeah.

Greg: Absolutely.

Caleb: Yep. Around the holidays, Claudia would make the rounds as a Secret Santa. She would bring presents to the doorsteps of needy families. Ring the doorbell and disappear. Dropping off toys and warm clothes. She [00:17:00] was the Mother Teresa of aunts Maine. Except she wasn't married. She wasn't Catholic. And there's no reports of her helping anyone with leprosy. And she hadn't taken a vow of poverty. Definitely no vows of poverty. But other than that, she was exactly like Mother Teresa.

Greg: The carbon copy, right?

Caleb: I mean, when was the last time? When was the last time there was a case of leprosy in the US? Any idea?

Greg: I think it was before 1949 when Claudia Viles was born.

Caleb: Right, right. Probably.

Greg: Everybody [00:17:30] also thought Claudia was pretty kick ass as the city's tax collector. Her like like we mentioned before, her main job was to collect fees for motor vehicle registration here in the great state of Utah. You either need to pay your for your motor vehicle registration in person at the DMV, and I think only like I don't know who does that because that sounds horrible. Or you can pay it online. I'm pretty sure [00:18:00] that you can mail it in as well. But I've paid mine online so long that I actually have lost all memories of ever paying my motor vehicle registration in person or by mail only online. But as I try to connect the dots from what I found online, I'm thinking that the residents of Anson, they either had to mail their motor vehicle registration fees into Claudia or pay her in person. It [00:18:30] looks like paying online was not an option at all, because it says that Claudia used only a typewriter and a ten key adding machine until 2012. No computer, so I think online payments were not an option.

Caleb: Am am. Nonplused. Is that is that the right word? Yeah.

Greg: For a well, I mean, if you got an adding machine that's not working.

Caleb: Yeah well well well done.

Greg: That's going to land with the accountants. [00:19:00] Um, yeah. No, I think that I wrote I think it was around 2012. I wrote a blog post about saying basically, why are we still talking about the cloud? The cloud is a thing. Everybody's just get used to it. And then here's Claudia Viles in the middle of nowhere, Maine, still typing away on a typewriter and and a and an adding machine.

Caleb: Impressive.

Greg: Impressive.

Caleb: Impressive.

Greg: She also performed her [00:19:30] duties as the city's tax collector out of her husband Glenn's garage, and she set her own office hours. I think that the office hour things. I mean, this is this is just me hypothesizing. But likely as an elected official, she could set her own office hours because if the voters didn't like her office hours, if they could, if they couldn't get to her, they would vote her out. So like likely that's she had very, very generous office hours. I'm going to assume [00:20:00] sources also say that Claudia set her own salary, which is surprising, but that's that's what I found. And her salary ranged from $30,000 to $40,000 a year. So she clearly wasn't abusing any sort of privilege she had for setting her own salary. And what's interesting is to put that salary in context, the median household income in Maine was $30,000 back in 1994. [00:20:30] It blew past 40,000 in 2004, and in 2015 it was over 50,000. So she wasn't rolling in it with her tax collector salary. Claudia was known for going above and beyond to serve her constituents. She would take the time to register cars for people who dropped by her house. There's. Yeah.

Caleb: I just I have to say, like my my [00:21:00] mom, when I was growing up, my mom worked in the treasures office of the my, my hometown was the county seat of of the county where we lived. And, and my mom worked in the treasurer's office where people would come in and pay various taxes under no circumstances. Whereas anyone coming over to our fucking house, right, pay whatever taxes they owed. Right? So let me just state for the record that this is fucking a it's a little weird. Yeah.

Greg: Well, see, and the funny thing, I mean, probably is because of the context you have with your mom, for me, also, [00:21:30] not having lived in a small town, I go, that makes sense. Someone's like, oh crap, I forgot to mail this in and it's the last day of month. Ring, ring. Hey, Claudia, can I just swing by your house real quick and you can give me one of the little stickers for my license plate. That's how that's. And she's going. Sure. Come on over. I've got some soup on the stove, too. We'll fill up your belly while you're here. So. But but here's here's how the whole customer service from home. There's one story that says that she renewed someone's grandfather's [00:22:00] registration at her home on Christmas Day. There's another story about this. This one I got. I need a little bit of help figuring this one out, because there's another story about her, quote, fulfilling her duty as a notary by performing a marriage for a young couple who knocked on her door. Now, here's why I need some help. Okay, as of right as of the time of this recording, I am a notary for the great state of Utah under the [00:22:30] auspices of the Lieutenant Governor. And I'm pretty sure that I cannot legally marry anyone at all by being a notary. But you're not a justice.

Caleb: You're not a justice of the peace.

Greg: I am not, I am not I am not a religious official or anything. But I guess in Maine, if you're there's there's a lot more power that comes with being a notary. And with great power comes great responsibility, like marrying a couple of people who just [00:23:00] ring your doorbell. It's like, excuse me, miss, we're looking for someone who can marry us.

Caleb: Hi. So our families don't approve, but we're in love, right?

Greg: Is there any room at the inn? Come on in. I still have some soup on the stove. Let me marry you and fill up your belly. How about I.

Caleb: Put you in the. How about I put you in the barn where there's a manger?

Greg: Yeah, exactly. I know, I know how this story goes. I know.

Caleb: How the story.

Greg: Goes. Now, Claudia was also [00:23:30] known to bend the rules from time to time. Oh, yeah? Sometimes she would allow people to pay a little less for their registration. Sometimes. And sometimes she would let them get away without showing proof of insurance for the vehicle that they were registering, which is a requirement in the state of Maine.

Caleb: Like we said earlier, Claudia didn't start using a computer [00:24:00] until sometime in 2012. And when she did, it sounds like it was just like for word processing. Then finally, in 2014, the Town of Anson purchased software to track registration and excise tax payments.

Greg: Only in 2014.

Caleb: Better late than never. Better late than never.

Greg: Cutting edge.

Caleb: Better late than never.

Greg: I'd say early adopter.

Caleb: It just so happens that that's when things started to get weird. Yeah, [00:24:30] yeah. Some town officials noticed some discrepancies. What kind.

Greg: Of discrepancies? Caleb.

Caleb: Oh, I'll tell you what kind of discrepancies, Greg. The amount of excise tax collected did not equal the amount that was deposited.

Greg: Oh, that seems like a pretty serious discrepancy.

Caleb: That is not a discrepancy that you want.

Greg: No.

Caleb: As a result, the town of Anson commissioned an audit which determined that $77,000 of excise tax was missing. A subsequent audit reports revealed the disappearance of hundreds of thousands [00:25:00] of dollars going back several years. And since Claudia was the only person collecting the excise taxes, she became the focus of the investigation.

Greg: Because who else could they focus on?

Caleb: I mean, Miss Scarlet in the library with the candlestick. Right.

Greg: Right.

Caleb: One of the things that turned up as a result of this investigation was that Claudia would manipulate. Her ten key tape. Now, if you are not an accountant over the age of 40 [00:25:30] old ten key adding machines would print little slips of paper as you added things up or subtracted them, or even even some occasional multiplication.

Greg: Every now and then. Yeah, the rare kind of multiplication.

Caleb: Right. And to to help the people who have no idea what these things are, it kind of looks like a very, a very small receipt, like a really like flimsy receipt that you would get from a bodega or something.

Greg: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Like from, from some sort of like [00:26:00] hipster store where they're using, like a cash register from the 1960s. That's what that's what an adding machine tape looks like.

Caleb: Definitely. And there and there's and they're probably selling adding machines to hipster shop.

Greg: Right.

Caleb: Okay. So these tapes would show all the items that were added together. And it would also display the sum of those items. So the way it works is like you'd be chattering, you'd be your fingers would be going super fast typing in the numbers that you need, and you'd [00:26:30] hit the total button, and then you'd be and it would, you know, spit out the total. And sometimes it would even put it in red. Did you ever have one that would put the total in red or oh, do subtotals in red or something? I don't know.

Greg: I think mine just would do negative numbers in red. Oh, so it was the red ink and the black ink that was like they somehow.

Caleb: Denoted there was a way that they denoted the totals. Like they put like asterisks next to asterisks.

Greg: Yeah. Yeah. That's how I remember that. Yeah. And so and.

Caleb: Then so what you would do is like you'd run your tape, right. And then you'd tear it off, you tear [00:27:00] off the tape and then you would, you would tape it into your if you were creating work papers, which many accountants and people who do these sorts of work do, they would they would take the tape and they would tape it, take some scotch tape and tape it into their into their documentation. Yep. Sound familiar?

Greg: It sounds very familiar. Did you did you ever have to use it? It sounds like you did.

Caleb: I did absolutely, absolutely. When I interned, when I interned, I had I had a partner that said to me, save your tapes, save your tapes. And so I'd be I'd be preparing tax [00:27:30] returns and like, if I was doing like if somebody had a lot of 1099 or something for interest income or dividend income. Yeah. You would have all those copies of 1099, but then you wanted like a, you wanted a what they call a cover sheet, I think, or a cover, you know, the top paper of that set of work papers. Yeah. It would basically summarize its contents. And a lot of times you would run the tape and you would put that tape on that first sheet. Yeah. And then if somebody wanted to cross reference all those numbers back to the 1099, they could do that. [00:28:00]

Greg: Just yeah, they could just tick them off. I, I, I was using a ten key back in the 1980s when I was doing the books for my mom's drugstore. Yeah, it was dude. Ten, ten, ten key all day was what what it was for me back there in the back room. So, yeah, all the tapes.

Caleb: So Claudia developed a technique whereby the tape would show the actual amounts of all the excise tax payments she received. But she was able to change the total so that it would only reflect [00:28:30] the amount she deposited, which was less. So if someone looked at the tape, all the items were accounted for. You could tick them all off. Yeah, but the only way that you could tell if things were amiss is if you actually recalculated. Those numbers for yourself.

Greg: Shortly after the audit. In April 2015, the authorities seized $58,500 in cash from [00:29:00] the Vile's home. Then, in August of 2015, Claudio was officially charged with stealing $500,948 from the town of Anson, Maine. In June of 2016, the next year, Claudio was found guilty of one charge of criminal theft plus 12 misdemeanors, and she was sentenced to eight years, three of which could be probation, and she was ordered to pay $566,257 [00:29:30] in restitution to the town. What's crazy is that due to the statute of limitations, Viles couldn't be prosecuted for stealing anything before 2009, and the assistant Attorney general, Leanne Robbin, said, quote, it's very possible that she may have been stealing money since 1982, which, if you remember, that was the very first year that she was a tax collector. Now, in the entire history [00:30:00] of the state of Maine, there are only two larger municipal embezzlement cases. One was prosecuted in federal court and the other was never prosecuted at all because the guy accused of committing the crime committed suicide before the case could go to trial. Another interesting end note in the story is that no definitive explanation has been offered for why Claudia took the money. The judge in her case said that he was puzzled in seeking an [00:30:30] explanation for the crime. However, just so you know, listeners, the official oh my fraud explanation is that she took the money because more money is better than less money. And I'm not sure why the judge couldn't piece that together on his own.

Caleb: There's no there's no, like, legal basis for that theory, but it's still pretty solid.

Greg: Yeah. And the other thing, this is a little bit of an aside, but from my research, it seemed [00:31:00] like part of the puzzle was they couldn't trace the money. They couldn't say, okay, here are the deposits into her account. And here's what she spent the money on. And I think that was puzzling to everyone as well. After the whole Claudia situation, and because of the whole Claudia situation, the town of Anson changed its charter so that its tax collector is no longer an elected position, but rather it is an appointed position. To this day, Claudia maintains her innocence, [00:31:30] and she has vowed to fight to clear her name for as long as she is breathing, and as of this recording, she's still serving her sentence.

Caleb: So, Greg, did we learn anything?

Greg: Absolutely. For sure. We learned some stuff and there's some stuff I really want to actually get into with you. But before that, I think it's almost like I feel compelled [00:32:00] to say it, that they're one of the things that was obvious in this case. There were no internal controls, right? In her job, there was no separation of duties. She was the only person doing it. She was a one man band, and not having anyone looking over your shoulder is one of the surest ways to expose yourself or your business, or your governmental body to fraud. But that's all super boring because we talked about that like a million times on the.

Caleb: No less important, though. No less important.

Greg: Exactly. It's definitely something that it comes up so often. It's [00:32:30] like, everybody fix that if if that's if that's where you're at, fix that now. But one of the things for me, and I'm sure for you and I'm sure for the listeners, that really sticks out partly because of the way that we even presented this case, is that this is such an in-your-face example that good people sometimes do bad things. And and what's interesting is all of those all of the stories about how amazing of a person that [00:33:00] Claudia Viles was. All of those came from about 50 letters that were sent by people in the community of Anson to the court on Claudia's behalf, to just testify about her character. Just say she's an amazing person. And a bunch of those people, they they were very much in the position of. I refuse to believe that Claudia did this. And obviously since Claudia's, you know, just [00:33:30] hung on and maintained her own innocence with such vigor the whole time, that's obviously helping them to maintain their belief that there's no way she could have possibly done this right. What do.

Caleb: You. What do you make of that, by the way? Like when when, like, you know, that's a little bit of a Lance Armstrong situation, right? Where you're just like, how long? How long are you going to hold on to that?

Greg: Right, right.

Caleb: That guy was adamant for many years that he was not doping. Right. And one day he goes on fucking Oprah and he says, yeah, I was doping. It's [00:34:00] like, you motherfucker, right? I fucking knew it the whole goddamn time, right? Right. Yeah. In this case, I don't want to say that about Claudia Biles, because obviously she's she's a very nice person. Yeah, Lance Armstrong is a fucking egomaniac. This person, like, mean, I don't know, but, like, then again, it's like. But again, I'm not a psychologist. Okay. So. Right. I don't know what is compelling someone in this case this person to maintain their innocence when all of the evidence is to the contrary. [00:34:30] Right. In a court of law, which we have decided as a society, or at least most of us, I should say, still matter. Yes. Right.

Greg: The evidence was beyond a reasonable doubt that she stole that money like beyond a reasonable doubt. Right. So any doubts that remained were non-rational, unreasonable, unreasonable. Yeah. Yes.

Caleb: Right. So my question so my question is why not just be like at some point you're just like, all right, God damn it, it was me. Yeah. [00:35:00] Right.

Greg: Right. Well she's.

Caleb: Doing the she's doing the time.

Greg: Right. Well, unlikely. I mean, again, this is a speculation. My guess is because she knows she's a revered person in the community, right? It's her.

Caleb: Reputation. It's her reputation. And she does not want to.

Greg: Lose that because. And she didn't just become a revered person in the community. This is stuff that she has been doing consistently over the course of a lifetime. Right. And to lose that at the finish line is probably [00:35:30] the worst catastrophe that could happen. So so I see that. I see that as being likely the case. But the other thing that I think is so interesting about this is that we as humans, we want to classify people as either like we want to say Claudia Viles is a bad person, or Claudia Viles is a good person, and we don't like the nuance, and I don't like it of of how good of a person she was. [00:36:00] And then she did this shitty thing. And the weird thing is, Caleb, if I, if I were to try to, you know, project myself into the role of Saint Peter, letting people into or preventing people from entering the pearly gates, I, I would probably say, hey, Claudia, that half a million things was not so cool than half $1 million thing. Not so cool, but everything else was awesome. So come on, come on in. Come on, join the party. How about how.

Caleb: About 50 Hail Mary's and [00:36:30] you step right in? Yeah. What do you.

Greg: Say? Yeah, because.

Caleb: Because. Do we have a deal?

Greg: The stuff that she did was so, like. It was so touching. Yeah. And then it's like, yeah, sure, you're still a bunch of money. But it was kind of a, you know, it's as close to a victimless crime as you can get. Yes, but even that. But it's hard for me even then to go, you know, I'm saying, Peter, and I'm going. It was a half a million bucks, but I go. It was only half a million bucks back to 2009. So it was, if I may if. [00:37:00]

Caleb: I may offer a counterargument, please. In one account I read, I don't know if it was a victim impact statement or what, but like basically somebody said, we live in this in this area of Maine. We live in one of the poorest, poorest areas of Maine. Yeah. And like and we lost out like I think it was something like $150 per taxpayer in the state of Maine. And this person was like that $150 can buy school supplies, it can buy clothes for a kid. It can do all these things that can benefit the community. [00:37:30] So it's I hear what you're saying, it's as about as close as to a victimless crime as you might can get because it's like, oh, it's a faceless city government, even a small municipal. Even in the case of a small municipality where, you know, almost no, literally everyone in town, right there is an impact, right? Yeah. And so.

Greg: Absolutely.

Caleb: Yeah, it's one of those things, you know, we're not talking about, you know, you go back and listen to our case about Dixon, Illinois, and you're talking about $50 million and you're talking about fucking roads that are buckling. Right. And exactly. Never mind. [00:38:00] Never mind school, you know, you know, short funding for schools like, you know, municipalities, they need they need the money. And so I have to believe that Anson needed the money. And there are people that would absolutely have benefited from the money that she used to. I don't know, she was unilaterally choosing how to use that money to benefit others in her community. And like, that's, that's, that's that's maybe do the ends. I guess that's the question in her mind. The ends must have justified the means, [00:38:30] right?

Greg: See, and I, I don't know or not, I don't know. That's that's really I mean, do you think that she is I think that she probably had a tough I, I've got to think that a lot of her good deeds probably were fueled from guilt about her stealing the money. Maybe. And then again, now I'm back at Saint Peter going, okay, so maybe your good deeds didn't come just from a heart of gold is maybe from a from a heart of of guilt, which. Yeah. So let's let's [00:39:00] call it a.

Caleb: 100, 150 hail Mary's.

Greg: Okay, 150 and you're good. Triple.

Caleb: We'll triple the Hail Mary's. Yep.

Greg: So all that being said, what I thought was the most interesting thing about the Claudia Viles case is that from what I can see, she exhibited none of the red flag behaviors that are associated with fraud. Oh, every two years, the ACF publishes their report to the nation, and every year they list the list changes from time to time. But it's always [00:39:30] about 20 different red flag behaviors that are that they associate with people who commit fraud. And every year, every time they release this report, the most common one by a long shot is always living beyond your means. And and Claudia did not do that. Now, it might be that even because, you know, you kind of average it out. She was getting like 60, 70 to $80,000 per year above what she was [00:40:00] making as a tax collector. So she's probably just her income, let alone Glenn's was probably like 100, you know, probably 100 to $120,000 a year, which is which is good money. But it's not like, you know, it's not private jet money. So it's not it's not it's not Rolexes for everybody at Christmas kind of money. Um, she did have it does say that she, she owned a couple of properties in Anson and they owned the Glenn's garage, and [00:40:30] and they also had a 131 acre camp on a private pond that was in a town that was like 14 miles south of Anson and and 131 acre camp. That sounds like a lot. But if you're just talking about basically it's raw land next to a pond that you have like a yurt on, it's it's not again, it's not flashy. That's not flashy shit.

Caleb: That's and for the record, the they ended up, I believe they ended up having to in terms of recouping the money for the city. [00:41:00] They ended up having to sell those.

Greg: Oh yes. All of that stuff was auctioned. Absolutely. But but there's there was zero reporting of a flashy lifestyle and here's. Yeah right here. And listen, here's just this isn't all of the red flag behaviors, but this is a this is a this is me cherry picking some of the the best ones. Obviously, we already covered the living beyond your means. Some of the other red flag behaviors financial difficulties. Don't hear about that. Control issues don't hear about that. One of the red flag behaviors is is [00:41:30] just this irritability suspiciousness or defensiveness. It sounds like she's not any of those. She's helpful, friendly, and marrying people who knock on her door. That's the.

Caleb: One. That's that's the red flag where I'm like, literally everyone is a is is a suspect. Oh, at any given at any given time.

Greg: Oh because yeah, if irritability, suspiciousness or defensiveness is a red flag. Oh yeah. Yeah.

Caleb: We're we're, we're we're all suspects.

Greg: Right. Back when [00:42:00] I was on Tinder, if I was being truthful and it said to describe yourself, I would have said irritable, suspicious, defensive and defensive. Yeah. Those are my main three qualities. Bullying and intimidation is a red flag. She clearly was not a mean unless she went to her friends and said, hey, we're going on a spontaneous road trip. We're going to help some people. So pack up your shit and let's go. Right. But again, right. I don't think bullying.

Caleb: Bullying people into good deeds, I believe, is what's known as positive peer pressure.

Greg: There it is. That's it. Divorce and [00:42:30] family problems is a red flag behavior. Obviously that wasn't a thing. Excessive pressure from within the organization. She was clearly just left alone. She didn't have pressure to get a computer from the organization. Um, addiction problems is listed as a red flag behavior. But here's interesting side note in one of those, one of those letters that was submitted to the court on her behalf, you know, testifying of her good behavior and her good character. Someone said that she [00:43:00] never drank alcohol, not during not not with everything that happened with her son, not during the recent retrial. She was a teetotaler. So addiction problems weren't her problems. Social. Social isolation is a red flag. She clearly was not isolated socially when people were knocking on her door to have her register their car on Christmas Day, past legal problems? No, no hint of that instability and life circumstances. We didn't see that. One of the I think this was new in the [00:43:30] 2022 report to the nation was excessive. Internet browsing is a real it's a red. How is that a red?

Caleb: How is that a red flag?

Greg: Again, everyone exhibits a red flag. If excessive internet browsing is a red, everyone's behavior.

Caleb: Everyone's a.

Greg: Suspect. Exactly. But that. But except for Claudia Viles, because she didn't even have a computer. That's right. Until 2012. So not even her. So. And according to the Department of Corrections, uh, the little profile about her, she [00:44:00] doesn't even have any tattoos, which, you know, all criminals have those. So she's she's clean according. The akf's red flag behaviors. This was also interesting that the Akf's official statistic is that 15% of perpetrators exhibit no behavioral red flags, and I always thought that was bullshit, and somebody had to exhibit at least one of these things. But now I've actually seen it. I still I still don't believe it's 15% don't [00:44:30] exhibit red flags. But now I can believe that it's at least above 0%. It's greater.

Caleb: Than zero.

Greg: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Caleb: Um, one thing I think you'll appreciate this. And I'm sorry. Non-accountants. You'll have to indulge us a little bit. Uh, one thing that this story reminded me of was about being a young accountant and remembering senior people on my team, and I mentioned this earlier, and they would say mostly partners. You know, people had been around and they said, save your tapes, right? Yeah. [00:45:00] Said that, um, you know, that's those ten key tapes. And what's hilarious to me about this story is that Claudia saved her tapes.

Greg: She did? Yeah, but they were fraudulent tapes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Caleb: Yeah, she was.

Greg: The tapes. It sounds like the tapes were integral to the cover up.

Caleb: Yeah. Right, right. And I think that that's a funny little like, quirk to this case that again, you know, I mean maybe the non accountants can appreciate it. But in any case um, and the other thing that made me think about [00:45:30] is is auditors right. Like they finally conducted an audit. Well it isn't clear right. In your research. Did you did an audit finally discovered this? Yeah. It was because the computer software. Some. Somehow the discrepancies were discovered because they had this new computer software, which suggests to me it's like, well, they either didn't have any audits done prior to that, right? Or they did have audits and nobody checked those tapes for accuracy. Right. And so I assume.

Greg: I assume the [00:46:00] latter, that there were audits and they were just like they maybe just looked at the total on the tape and were like, cool, good enough.

Caleb: Right? Right. And so the thing is, is, like anyone listening who's ever been an auditor will tell you, one of the first things that you learn on the job is that when you get a document from a client, whether that whether you're a state auditor and your client is, you know, client is a is a city tax collector, or whether you're a CPA auditing a business, one of [00:46:30] the first things that you learn how to do when you get a document from that client is you. If it has numbers on it, you add those numbers up and in the lingo, as you foot it right.

Greg: You foot that tape, you foot.

Caleb: That schedule.

Greg: Foot that schedule. Yeah.

Caleb: And so which.

Greg: Which is, which has got to be a thing because I was thinking it, she had and I didn't totally understand how she was able to make her ten key, say a different right total on [00:47:00] a ten key. That's, that's like some mean some ten key ninja stuff. But anyone who's done anything on a spreadsheet knows how easy it is to make the total at the bottom of that, that column different than what the numbers actually add up to.

Caleb: And I think that's that's the thing here where. Did things literally add up? And the answer is no, they didn't. But no, but nobody checked, right? And so, you know, I think most auditors probably have memories of, you know, of, of a partner [00:47:30] or a manager getting a note back and saying, hey, this doesn't foot. Did you foot it? And, and and then you never make that mistake again.

Greg: Right, right. Some public humiliation.

Caleb: Goes, yeah, a little bit of yeah. Private public humiliation. Yeah. So, so yeah, that was a fun little one for the accountants out there, I suppose.

Greg: All right, that's it for this episode. Remember, if you're looking for work life balance, try getting elected as a municipal tax collector.

Caleb: No kidding. [00:48:00] And also remember, excessive internet browsing is a slippery slope to stealing money from your employer.

Greg: Yeah. Or tattoos.

Caleb: Right? Of course.

Greg: If you want to drop the.

Caleb: Tattoos.

Greg: Always the tattoos. You have tattoos? Several. I also do. Yeah. So, yeah. Keep an eye on us. Yep. If you want to drop us a line, send us an email at oh my fraud@earmarks.com. And, Caleb, where can people find you out there in the internet?

Caleb: Uh, I'm. [00:48:30]

Caleb: On the website formerly known as Twitter. Anyway, I'm on at newquist and you can find me on LinkedIn. Backslash. Caleb. Newquist Greg. Linkedin.

Greg: Linkedin does the best place for me. Greg Kite, CPA, I think is just LinkedIn backslash. Greg Kite and that's me. I get on there probably at least once a week. So if you send me something there, I'll eventually find it.

Caleb: Better late than never. Yeah. Oh My Fraud is written by Greg Kite and myself. Our producer [00:49:00] is Zach Frank. If you liked the show, leave us a review where you listen to the show or rate the show. If you can't leave a review, that's also nice. It's so nice. It helps people find the podcast and subscribe to the show on Apple or Spotify or iHeartRadio or all the podcast addict. Yeah, there's a lot.

Greg: Of or in the earmark.

Caleb: App. Oh, in the earmark app, if you're listening, if you're listening for CPE, you're on earmark if you want some CPE. Get [00:49:30] on earmark. Yeah. Listen to this. Get some.

Greg: It's it's it's easy. And it can be free unless you want lots and lots of credits.

Caleb: And, you know. Depending on when this episode airs, you probably maybe need lots and lots of credit.

Greg: And if you do, you should subscribe because it's absolutely worth it.

Caleb: There's more than 40 episodes of this show. Great. So if someone is in desperate need, if they are two years behind on getting their CPA [00:50:00] and they have not listened to any of these programs and gotten credit for it.

Greg: You can get half of your CPA just by listening to this podcast. Listen, I'm driving to Reno next week and Reno and back, and I'm assuming that I'm probably going to get at least ten credits of CPA just from listening to podcasts while I'm driving, and I can't wait.

Caleb: That's time well spent right there.

Greg: Absolutely.

Caleb: Join us next time for more average swindlers and scams from stories that will make you say oh my, oh my.

Greg: Fraud. [00:50:30]

Creators and Guests

Caleb Newquist
Caleb Newquist
Writer l Content at @GustoHQ | Co-host @ohmyfraud | Founding editor @going_concern | Former @CCDedu prof | @JeffSymphony board member | Trying to pay attention.
Greg Kyte, CPA
Greg Kyte, CPA
Mega-pastor of @comedychurch and the de facto worlds greatest accounting cartoonist.
A Very, Very, Very Nice Lady Did Some Fraud
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