Federal prosecutors have charged a Hialeah woman of running a six-year, $2.6 million embezzlement scheme on a cruise-ship duty-free company.
Carmen Silvia Rodriguez, a 55-year-old former employee at Starboard Cruise Services, faces two counts of wire fraud. If convicted, she could face a maximum sentence of 20 years.
In April 2010, she started work in the finance department of Starboard, which runs tax-free and duty-free retail stores on cruise ships.
Federal prosecutors allege Rodriguez quickly began setting up her scheme with dormant accounts from previous Starboard suppliers.
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Starboard stopped buying goods for resale from a Chinese textile company in July 2009. Court documents allege Rodriguez changed the Chinese company’s account number in Starboard’s records to a Bank of America account she controlled. And, documents claim, she used a Wells Fargo account to do the same in 2015 with the account number of a New Jersey clothes company Starboard stopped dealing with in July 2010.
Part II of the scheme involved creating fake internal invoices with falsely fat prices for goods Starboard was buying. The usual method for putting on that cost weight, prosecutors allege, was lying on the high side about shipping costs. Each fake invoice then got a fake purchase order. The purchase order would list one of the aforementioned businesses as owed the difference between the real price and the fake price on the invoice.
That, prosecutors say, how Rodriguez managed to siphon about $2,669, 372.30 in payment transfers from Starboard’s Citibank account and her accounts from 2010 through 2016.
A search of court records reveals no criminal past for Rodriguez, although she declared bankruptcy in 2005.