Retail Employee Allegedly Stole to Cover Wisconsin Payday Loans
Inside Subprime: April 22, 2019
By Lindsey Frankel
The theft was uncovered by a loss prevention investigator, who informed a Brown County deputy on March 11. According to the criminal complaint, the employee said she had “some trouble with payday loans and the interest was very high,” which led her to take the money to cover her debts.
Payday loans are short-term loans that are advertised as a way to gain quick access to cash, but they can often lead to long-term financial hardship for borrowers. Since payday lenders don’t require a credit check, the loans are appealing to consumers with bad credit who lack access to traditional loans.
Because Wisconsin’s payday loan laws are relatively permissive, payday loans in Wisconsin carry an average annual percentage rate of 574 percent, according to data from Pew Charitable Trusts. The exorbitantly high interest rates and fees associated with payday loans make it difficult for borrowers to pay back these loans in the time allotted, which leads to a cycle of debt that can be difficult to overcome. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 80 percent of payday loans get renewed or rolled over.
The employee allegedly began stealing from her retail employer in October of 2018, a crime she attributed to the financial hardship incurred from Wisconsin payday loans. When she needed cash to put towards her loans, she would open deposits from that week. She then put money back into the deposit from the previous week, which left her a week behind on deposits.
“Around Christmas time, there was way more money for the deposits for the previous week,” the emplpyee’s statement reads. “I should have done extra deposits, but I took the money instead.”
Her employer’s Loss Prevention uncovered the alleged theft when an accountant found that $5,600 in deposits were missing from January 28 to February 10. Surveillance footage revealed that the employee took daily deposits from the cash office, opening the sealed bags with a razor blade or scissors and then hiding the money in a register bag before leaving the office with the stolen money.
“My intentions were to pay back the money,” the employee said.
During the employee’s first court appearance on March 12, the judge ordered a signature bond in the amount of $2,500. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 1.
The retailer plans to close down all stores by June following bankruptcy filings.