From about May 2008 to March 2015, he engaged in a scheme to defraud almost $5 million from his employer Holt, a heavy machinery company based in California. Co managed Holt’s accounting department and as the company’s controller, Co oversaw Holt’s commercial credit account. Co abused that authority to conduct hundreds of unauthorized credit card transactions on the company’s account, to manipulate and falsify records regarding the credit account and to mislead the bank that held the credit account when it made inquiries to Co about suspicious transactions.
As part of a plea agreement Thursday, Co, 45, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud (he was charged with eight) and one count of money laundering (he was charged with three).
In total, he must pay Holt $4,542,236.08 in restitution, and he potentially faces decades in prison (20 years in prison is the maximum sentence for each charge, according to the plea agreement documents obtained by Ars Technica.)
He has not yet been sentenced.
The amount of money he stole would change most people’s lives, and it seemed to have changed Co’s as well. Among the things he spent it on are the expected — luxury cars, season tickets to see the Sacramento Kings and the San Francisco 49ers.
Some of his other extravagances included “plastic surgery expenses” and a membership at the exclusive Whitney Oaks Golf Club in Rocklin, Calif.
Easily the strangest expenditure was money spent on playing “Game of War,” a smartphone game that is considered a freemium app — referring to a game that costs nothing to acquire but requires monetary purchases in-game. In other words, if you want better weaponry or some such within the game, you can purchase it.
The average paying player spent $550 on the game in 2015, according to VentureBeat.
Co spent approximately $1 million.
Currently, the game, which bills itself as “the world’s largest multiplayer strategy game” with “millions . . . battling for domination,” earns an estimated $1.6 million a day.
If the game sounds familiar, that is likely because it was heavily promoted during the 2015 Super Bowl via commercials featuring a scantily clad (if clad at all) Kate Upton.
The game has definitely sucked its players into spending gross amounts of money before. That Upton-starring ad campaign cost about $40 million, according to AdWeek, and it clearly worked on some people.
One player who spent $9,000 on the game explained that regretful expenditure in an article on Cracked.
The game eases players into spending money, starting low for quick upgrades but quickly requiring more of an investment to remain competitive (only after a player has invested time and money into it).
As explained in Cracked, “You’ve gone from a game that was fun to play for free to a game that’s no fun to play at all unless you spend to keep up. And you will spend because you’ve been putting in 30 minutes a day for half a year to reach this point.”
The piece referred to “Game of War” as “like gambling, but with no possibility of winning.”
Of course, gambling is much easier to do when you are not dishing out your own hard-earned dough.
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