Cashier Scammed Museum for $1.1M

Swiss woman had many ways to skim money from ticket sales at art museum
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2023 4:28 PM CDT
Art Museum Cashier Guilty of Stealing $1.1M
The Beyeler Foundation.   (Taxiarchos228/Wikipedia)

A woman who worked at Switzerland's most popular art museum appears to have been the Rembrandt of scammers. The 54-year-old was found guilty Friday of stealing more than $1.1 million from the Beyeler Foundation museum near Basel between 2008 and 2019, the New York Times reports. Authorities said the cashier used a variety of methods to skim money from ticket sales, including selling emergency preprinted tickets and pocketing the cash. She also often sold the same ticket twice by giving some customers receipts instead of tickets, saying there was a technical problem that meant the ticket couldn't be printed, Artnet reports.

The trick that aroused colleagues' suspicions the most, leading to an internal investigation and the woman's firing in 2019, was when she canceled tickets issued by other workers, keeping the refunds for herself. During her trial last week, the court heard that she started stealing from the museum months after she started working there in 2008. She was promoted to manage other cashiers in 2012. The court heard that she began stealing larger sums over time and had been living beyond her means, with luxury vacations and multiple luxury cars.

The museum said the theft amounted to around 1% of ticket sales over the time that she worked there. She didn't work directly for the museum but was employed by a service provider, which agreed to compensate the museum. The charges against her included commercial theft, embezzlement, and forgery of documents, SRF reports. She was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison, plus a $3,600 fine, and ordered to repay the stolen money plus interest. The judge, Marcia Stucki, told her that she had shown a "high level of criminal energy," and had displayed her "insolence and indifference" in court, the Times reports. (More museum stories.)

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