A former Apple employee has pleaded guilty to a long-term fraud scheme that stole over $17 million from the company. Dhirendra Prasad, who primarily worked as a buyer for Apple’s Global Service Supply Chain department, perpetrated the fraud from 2011 through 2018. His guilty plea was announced by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.
The guilty plea was presented by United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Mark H. Pearson. Prasad is currently awaiting sentencing which is scheduled for March 14, 2023. He faces up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Prasad also faces up to five years on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Though the total amount of the fraud is estimated to be over $17 million, only five million worth of seizable assets has been discovered at this time, leaving Apple with a $12 million loss. The extent and longevity of the scam have raised questions regarding Apple’s audit process which should have caught on to the fraud earlier and minimized the company’s losses.
How the Scam Worked
Prasad used multiple tactics to commit fraud over the seven years he was engaged in the practice. The schemes included taking kickbacks, stealing parts, having Apple Pay for supplies and services they never received, and double billing the company for parts. He worked with two co-conspirators, Robert Gary Hansen and Don M. Baker. The pair were charged with participating in Prasad’s fraudulent schemes and have admitted their involvement.
Two examples illustrate the methods Prasad and his partners used to defraud Apple for millions of dollars. Beginning in 2013, Prasad had motherboards shipped to CTrends, which was Baker’s company. Baker then had the company harvest parts from the motherboards. These parts were sold back to Apple based on purchase order requests initiated by Prasad. After Apple paid for the stolen parts, Prasad and Baker split the profits.
Prasad and Hansen used a similar scheme starting around 2016. Prasad had parts and components shipped from Apple to Hansen’s company, Quality Electronics Distributors, Inc. After Hansen repackaged the components and shipped them back to Apple, Prasad created fraudulent purchase orders for the items. Hansen then billed Apple for parts they already owned. Once again, Prasad and his partner split the profits of the scam.
Prasad was apprehended as the result of an investigation led by the Internal Revenue Service. He remains free pending the outcome of his sentencing hearing.