A former office manager of an Indiana trucking company pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in federal court on Nov. 22, admitting she orchestrated an elaborate money transfer scheme to defraud the company out of nearly $382,000.
Tracy Cox, 51, of Hammond, Indiana, admitted to approving more than 400 unauthorized money transfers for her personal use over a seven-year period, from May 2011 to July 2018. She did that by accessing the Comdata payment system the company used to pay truck drivers for fuel and cash advances.
Cox worked in the accounting department of Corico Inc. of Gary, Indiana, from 1992 to 2018. She started out in the company’s accounts payable department before being promoted to a fiduciary position as the company’s office manager in 2016, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Hammond.
In her role as office manager, she oversaw and controlled Corico’s advance payment and reimbursement of fuel and trucking expenses conducted through Tennessee-based Comdata Inc., a provider of fleet management and electronic payment solutions.
According to her plea agreement, Cox admitted to contacting Comdata to authorize a series of check numbers for future use by Corico truck drivers. After obtaining the authorization codes from Comdata for the checks, she filled in the dollar amounts and made them payable to herself, which she then cashed at three Pilot Flying J Travel Centers in Indiana.
On other occasions, she provided Pilot with authorization codes and received cash advances, court filings allege.
To cover up the fraud, Cox admitted to altering bank statements to hide the original account bank statements and hid receipts from Corico’s owner for several years, according to her plea agreement.
Her scheme was discovered in July 2018 after Comdata alerted Corico that Cox had collected several checks and cash advances over seven years.
When confronted, Cox “immediately left Corico and never returned,” according to court documents.
Corico President Corey Niezgoda did not respond to FreightWaves’ request for comment regarding Cox’s plea agreement.
Cox faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, according to her plea agreement.