Executive Assistant to Delta Senior Vice Presidents Stole $280,000 With Delta American Express Card

A former executive assistant to two Delta Senior Vice President made $280,000 in personal charges on her company American Express card between 2007 and 2014.

Apparently she “used another person’s credentials to log onto Delta’s online expense-approval system and approve the expenses..”

I’ve certainly seen employees who justify expenses on the basis of what they view as fair. Perhaps they travel for work and they see extras as compensation for time away from their family — compensation they haven’t been promised, didn’t negotiate, and indeed don’t tell their employer about.

But when they aren’t just ‘slipping it by’ their accounting department, but are actively engaging in deceit to keep their charges outside of the normal review processes, there’s not even that little bit of grey involved.

Most businesses set up financial controls that do assume at least a modicum of honesty on the part of their employees. It’s something they (should) try to screen for in hiring and performance reviews. Usually the mere fact that expenses are going to be seen by someone else is enough to keep impulses to charge personal items to the company in check, although employees certainly learn which supervisors are more or less likely to give expenses a careful review.

Essentially forging approvals of one’s own expenses is way beyond that usual process. I’m not surprised it happened, but am surprised that the employee got away with it for 7.5 years. I don’t like making people change their passwords frequently, that just causes them to write down their passwords in a way that’s often less secure. Still, there does seem like a real lapse in security protocols if this employee could use a supervisor or approver’s login consistently for that length of time.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @Gary – LOL. Sadly, I’ve recent first-hand experience knowing that those highest up the executive ladder are the most likely to share their passwords with others. It’s easy to blame the secretary for this, but I’d bet there’s more to this story than will ever make it into a press release.

    Frankly, they should probably all be fired, with nice little golden parachutes. Even if they didn’t just give her the credentials, there’s a 99.9% chance they were negligent with them.

    I do wonder what tipped them off. Local stories almost always start with the indicted person having taken a long vacation and the temp brought in noticed something funny in the books…

  2. Password security?

    Many execs have their assistant handle all their email for them. So of COURSE they have the password, maybe their dog’s name, which is the same as they one they use for everything else. And the higher up the food chain you are, the more likely they are to not be required to use dual-factor or other such annoyances.

  3. Wasn’t this the airline with the motto “The World’s Most Trusted Airline?” Heck, it seems that you can’t trust Delta’s executives or even their executive assistants. Delta is just a real class act.

  4. Passwords likely have zero to do with this. My company’s online travel review and approval process is so odious that of course I delegate approvals to my EA – that’s what she’s there for (and part of why we hired an EA rather than an AA)! Determining whether one of my 20 reports is charging laundry or Ubers within policy isn’t at all what the company is paying me to do, and she only bothers me with anomalies or unusual expenses. In my experience that kind of trust is very rarely violated. It’s more surprising to me that the fraudulent travel didn’t show up as a budget exception, but depending on the size of the budget, $10K/quarter may have been just so much noise…

  5. I’m guessing the unassuming DL employee in your picture is not going to appreciate showing up as the poster child for some other person’s transgressions

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