Wabasha, MN (KROC-AM News)- The victim of an apparent romance scam in Wabasha County is accused of embezzling millions of dollars from her employer. 

Quick Country 96.5 logo
Get our free mobile app

That’s according to a criminal complaint recently filed in Wabasha County Court. The charges accuse her of stealing the money from October 2019 through March of this year when she was fired. 

The complaint says the owner of the now bankrupt company, which is based in Lewiston, MN, hired a Chief Financial Officer from an outside firm after noticing unexpected losses and financial inconsistencies in the company’s books.

The owner also noticed multiple large transfers to organizations that are not associated with the business that had the same bank account numbers. 

Schmalzriedt complaint. Wabasha County Court
Schmalzriedt complaint. Wabasha County Court
loading...

A review by the owner and CFO found the company’s bookkeeper, identified as 61-year-old Sharon Ann Schmalzriedt, had deleted multiple payments from the business’s ledgers after cross referencing records from her with backup records made by the CFO.

An agent from the Minnesota BCA reviewed the financial records with the owner and found Schmalzriedt had made $3,751,337.06 in payments to the unaffiliated organizations over a nearly four-year span, the complaint says.

Schmalzriedt told law enforcement she had started an online relationship with an individual she knew as Erik Lockwood, who told her he needed money to get access to $7 million for work he did in Dubai. The complaint states Lockwood promised he would repay her.   

Schmalzriedt complaint. Wabasha County Court
Schmalzriedt complaint. Wabasha County Court
loading...

Schmalzriedt admitted to sending the scammer money from her employer that she was not authorized to use after burning through her own money and money from the company she was allowed to borrow. A review of  Schmalzriedt’s cell phone found she was aware she was stealing from her employer and that her actions drove the company to bankruptcy, according to the complaint. 

The charges also accuse her of stealing $17,150.00 to send to the scammer from a vulnerable adult in her care. The money was set aside to pay the victim’s nursing home bills. 

Schmalzriedt complaint. Wabasha County Court
Schmalzriedt complaint. Wabasha County Court
loading...

Schmalzriedt has been charged with a count of felony theft and one count of felony financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. She’s due to make her next appearance in Wabasha County Court in January.

More Minnesota News:

Tips to Avoid Being Victimized By Scams

When the Black Friday deals show up, so do the scammers! To protect yourself, the FBI shared the following tips.

Gallery Credit: Jessica On The Radio