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Jewelery department clerk Cecille Villacorta was the most successful saleswoman at Saks Fifth Avenue until the store busted her for grand larceny. It seems like a fairly run of the mill crime story, but there's a catch: Of the $1.4 million she's accused of stealing, Villacorta kept none of it. Neither did she distribute it to her family or friends. Instead, it went directly back to her customers, which seems to explain her success.
According to the store, Villacorta would ring up fake refunds for her favorite customers, tossing them a couple thousand dollars for "returning" an expensive necklace or watch, despite the fact that the jewelry never actually made it back to the store. She'd also give them rebates for gift cards they never bought, effectively trading kickbacks for future sales. Now, Villacorta is on trial, facing 25 years in prison and the prospect of paying back all that falsely earned money in commissions. It's worth noting, though, that if the accusations are true and she did bilk Saks out of $1.4 million, they still come out $25.6 million ahead. Clearly, the woman knew a thing or two about sales.
· On Trial, a Sales Wizard, a Thief, or Both, at Saks [NYT]