Bookstore employee steals $14,000

A GW Bookstore employee is being charged with first-degree theft for allegedly stealing more than $14,000 from the store through fraudulent refunds, according to court documents.

Marco Pareja, 30, told the bookstore director and a manager on Sept. 9 that he had made fictitious refunds to his credit card totaling about $10,000 and another $4,000 in refunds to a friend’s card, court documents state. He transferred the money over eight transactions between February and August 2008.

On Sept. 10, Pareja spoke to the Financial Crime and Fraud unit of the Metropolitan Police Department and explained his illegal returns scheme.

Pareja, a Silver Spring, Md., resident “would key in his Mastercard number as oppose(d) to swiping the card in an effort to hide the transactions” and then apply returns or refunds onto the card, according to court documents. To further hide the false returns, Pareja told officials he conducted them on registers that were signed in under other employees’ names.

University Spokeswoman Tracy Schario said Pareja is an employee of Follett, the company that manages the bookstore, and that the University does not comment on personnel matters. Pareja, when reached at home by phone, declined to comment. Pareja’s attorney and bookstore director Patricia Lee did not return requests for comment.

The documents state that Pareja told the bookstore director he confessed because the theft was weighing heavily on his mind and “that he had been making himself sick.” He was charged with first-degree theft on Sept. 16, released the same day and ordered to stay away from the GW Bookstore, according to court documents.

A felony status conference has been scheduled for Pareja on Oct. 28.

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