How a con artist stole millions from Procter & Gamble and Roche

Peter Cohan

The male ego is a delicate thing. And when that ego finds its way into the upper ranks of a large company, it is uniquely vulnerable to the right sales pitch. As Fortune reports, last October one Dina Wein Reis (pictured), whose New York townhouse the FBI emptied of its millions in expensive trinkets -- including necklaces, watches, Louis XVI footstools, and Bugatti throne chairs -- was the scam artist who allegedly exploited this vulnerability to steal at least $20 million in merchandise from corporate titans like Procter & Gamble (PG), Roche (RHHBY), Unilever (UL), and Hershey (HSY).

Wein Reis's alleged scam was simple in concept. She cold-called top executives and offered them lucrative jobs running one of her companies. During the interview, she would propose that the executive's current employer sell her millions of inventory at a discount so her company could distribute it in backpacks for free to senior centers, schools, and Native American reservations. Once Wein Reis got the discounted inventory, she sold it to wholesalers and pocketed the profit.