If someone gives you $2.6 million by mistake, don't spend it


I'm not making this up ... Earlier this year, school counselor Sabrina Walker received $2.6 million from the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The payment was intended to go to Hennepin County Medical Center for Medicaid reimbursement. A clerical error directed the check to Walker.

Did she call anyone? Did she check into the matter? Did she say "I don't think the state owed me $2.6 million"?

No. She started spending the money. Right away. The check was sent on March 29 and it cleared the bank on April 4. It's a good thing Walker didn't waste any time!

Walker got herself a sports car, electronic equipment, and jewelry. Being responsible, she also put some money aside for a rainy day. She funded two retirement accounts and bought a $500,000 certificate of deposit and a $500,000 Treasury bond.

On May 17, Walker contacted the state to ask why she received $2.6 million and she was told to return the money. She declined and began spending even more money. She was eventually arrested and charged with four felonies. The state is working on getting the money back.

Forensic accountant Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations through her company, Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners honored Tracy as the 2007 winner of the prestigious Hubbard Award and her first book, Essentials of Corporate Fraud, will be on bookshelves in March 2008.

Originally published