Bookstore employee held on fraud

By the

September 6, 2001

A temporary University bookstore employee is being held in connection with her attempt to defraud two students of $300 last Wednesday, according to the Director of Bookstores Jim Kuhlman.

Kuhlman said that the University informed the Metropolitan Police Department, which is also investigating the matter along with Department of Public Safety.

The investigating DPS officer could not be reached for comment.

According to Kristen Sadd (CAS ‘02), on the morning of Aug. 29 she and her boyfriend Thomas Matella (NUR ‘04) were in the process of buying books, which totaled over $580, when the cashier informed them that if they paid with cash, the total would only be $250.

Sadd said she and Matella subsequently went to the ATM machine and withdrew $300. In the meantime, Kuhlman said, the cashier called her manager over the register and voided the transaction.

After returning with the money, according to Sadd, the couple were asked to place the $300 dollars into a small plastic bag on the counter. The cashier then placed the plastic bag behind the register and handed Sadd and Matella their books.

“We now know we should have called for a manager,” Sadd said, “but trying to be discreet, we took the books and walked to the DPS officer standing at the front.”

Sadd left for a 10:15 a.m. class and returned to the bookstore around 11:30 a.m, at which time the DPS officer and Kuhlman were reviewing surveillance tapes. According to Kuhlman, the tapes clearly implicated the cashier, who had been hired from the temporary agency Office Plus.

At first the cashier claimed she had no idea what Sadd and Matella were talking about and claimed the couple had concocted the idea.

Kuhlman, however, disagrees. “I have no reason to doubt that they gave the money to her.”

DPS searched the register in question and could not find any trace of the $300. Sadd said she wanted the bookstore to reimburse her and Matella $300.

Kuhlman, however, said the bookstore is not legally liable.

“From a loss-prevention standpoint,” Kuhlman said, “there’s no legal liability on our part because we can’t recover the money. It’s just [Sadd’s] word against the cashier’s.”

Sadd said the bookstore offered to place $300 toward a charity of their choosing, but she wants the money placed back into the couple’s bank account.

“I am very disenchanted with the system overall,” Sadd said.

Kuhlman said the bookstore decided yesterday to reimburse the students directly. He said that he sympathizes with the couple’s situation, but thinks students should be more self-aware.

“I really don’t believe the caliber of the Georgetown student could be that naive,” Kuhlman said.

According to Kuhlman, such incidents should not reflect poorly on temporary agencies such as Office Plus, which he says conduct police background checks on their employees.

The bookstore has not been completely free from these kinds of incidents. Last fall a male student, who chooses to remain anonymous, said he entered the bookstore with $300 but realized at the check-out stand that he did not have cash to purchase the books. He said that once the cashier saw that he had cash, she told him that she would only charge him $250 so long as he gave her an extra $20 on the side.

The male student said that though he had his suspicions he did not report the incident to DPS.

“Students need to know that these are the type of people working in the bookstore,” Sadd said.

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