The Madoff’s of Best Buy

The Con

When times are bad, everyone starts looking for ways to cut back in expenses.  Several friends have decided to cancel their landlines because they receive the majority of their daily calls via cell phones.  Another friend has decided to only drink coffee he has brewed and still another has cut out Chinese take out completely, a difficult thing to do for any New Yorker. It’s the little expenses that always seem to come up and bit you in the ass when you expect it. Today’s news brought a story that showed just how much you could make off with when those little expenses aren’t being watched.

From 2003-2007, Best Buy was fleeced for over $31 million.  Abby and Russell Cole – a Deerfield, Illinois couple who discovered a way to issue fraudulent bids on computer parts needed by the electronics chain, promulgated the theft.  According to Chicago Tribune, the couple ran an online company called Chip Factory to underbid the competition and then invoiced Best Buy for computer chips, which they didn’t have, at the highest bidders price.  At one point they bid $42 per part and sent the electronics giant a bill for $571 a part.  That’s over a 1,000% markup.

At one point, someone did catch on but the concerns were smoothed over by the Cole’s inside man at Best Buy’s Minneapolis headquarters, one Robert Paul Bossany.  The couple had been bribing Bossany and when Best Buy finally caught on to the scam, four years later, he took the fall and is now turning state’s evidence against his handlers.

Of course this begs the question: why didn’t someone in accounting ask what the hell was going on?  Was it that the grossly under compensated bookkeepers in that Best Buy department just didn’t care or was Bossany that charming?  Whatever the root cause of the oversight, it seems Bossany and the Coles used the Peter Principle to their advantage. 

However, that 1,000+% markup is what surprises me.  So I sit here and wonder: if theses three brain surgeons hadn’t gotten OVERLY greedy, would they have become the Madoff’s of Best Buy?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Every Friday, get 2 for 1 movie tickets when you use your Visa Signature card.

Recent Comments