FBI Sting Nabs Two AccountantsWorld Employees

Two employees of Hauppage, New York-based software company AccountantsWorld and a third person were arrested last Thursday for attempting to make an unauthorized sale of an AccountantsWorld customer list to a rival software company. The three have been charged with mail fraud and face a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Newsday.com reports that customer service representatives Kristin Froelich and Frank Walsh of AccountantsWorld used e-mail to contact a representative from ExacTax, a tax preparation software company in Anaheim, CA. The two offered to sell an AccountantsWorld customer list for $40,000. The ExacTax sales representative was aware of the fact that AccountantsWorld had sold the list and software rights to Creative Solutions for $20 million just days ago.

The sales representative from ExacTax contacted Creative Solutions and informed them of the offer. Creative Solutions contacted the FBI, who set up a sting operation. Gerard Germano, not employed by AccountantsWorld, arranged to meet with the representative from ExacTax to make the exchange. Instead an FBI agent met with Mr. Germano and arrested him when he handed over the customer list.

The FBI traced the e-mail messages to Ms. Froelich and Mr. Walsh who were subsequently arrested. All three have been released on bail pending future hearings.

"Obviously it's very disappointing," AccountantsWorld chief executive Chandra Bhansali told WebCPA, who first reported the story. "This is shocking for the whole company."

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