Interns are great. They make coffee. They file paperwork. They entertain older co-workers with stories of their youthful goings-on. And in Manyvone Phanhsiry's case, for two years, they allegedly (and unwittingly) provided the means for her to bilk nearly half a million dollars from Microsoft.
The alarmingly simple plan worked like so: Phanhsiry, who worked for the Bellevue office of Microsoft contractors Cartus Corp., was in charge of issuing debit cards for Microsoft's interns to use in covering their housing costs. Phanhsiry was only supposed to give debit cards to interns who weren't staying in the official Microsoft dormitories, but instead she allegedly issued them for anyone she felt like and simply kept the extra cards and cashed them herself at various ATMs.
As the indictment states:
"The essence of the scheme was that Maryvone (sic) Phanhsiry, while employed at Cartus Corporation, requested and processed applications for unauthorized debit cards from U.S. Bank, which were funded with Microsoft funds, in the name of Microsoft interns who were not entitled to the funds. When she received the debit cards in the interns' names, she withdrew the funds at various ATM machines, thereby fraudulently depriving Microsoft of approximately $457,000."
Cartus still handles a range of duties for Microsoft, and they were quick to distance themselves from Phanhsiry, whom they fired in 2009, releasing this statement:
"We became aware that a crime of theft was committed by an individual employee, whom we terminated immediately. Our company has maintained a relationship with Microsoft for more than 15 years, and we have been actively cooperating with Microsoft and authorities with respect to this matter. We take this very seriously and hold our people to the highest ethical standards."
Phanhsiry faces at least two years in prison for the crime if convicted.
Seattle Weekly's interns, meanwhile, have revolted en masse upon learning that some companies actually pay for their interns' housing.
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