Alicia Moran probably looked like just another happy international traveler as she partied along the Las Vegas Strip in 2015. But the Scottish woman had a wee bit of a problem. She was spending money she had embezzled from Thomas Cook, the giant European travel agency where she worked as a foreign exchange sales assistant.
Indeed, it was while she was living it up in Sin City that U.K. authorities back home made the decision to charge her. Moran was arrested at Glasgow Airport returning from her 10-day trip to the colonies–Vegas and New York. A mother of two, she is now in a Scottish jail serving an 18-month sentence that started last month after admitting she stole about $200,000 in just a six-month period.
Moran, 34, becomes the newest person nominated to my list, It Didn’t Stay Here. The roster consists of folks in trouble elsewhere for something that happened in that bug light of mischief called Las Vegas. My list is a pointed refutation of “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” the famous marketing slogan of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. You can see previous nominees elsewhere on this New To Las Vegas page. After the terrible October 1 massacre at an outdoor concert on the Strip, the agency stopped advertising the seemingly powerful pitch but resumed its use last month.
And so do I.
My account here is drawn from extensive coverage in the British press. As far as I know, Moran’s sad story has not received attention in the Las Vegas media.
She lived in Greenock, an eastern waterfront suburb of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. Moran worked at a Thomas Cook office in a Glasgow-area shopping center.
As the Daily Mail put it, she figured out how to take “as much money as she wanted while altering the accounts so they looked as if no funds were missing.” She apparently also took advantage of the better exchange rate that Thomas Cook offers its own employees, changing currency for customers at the regular rate and then booking the transactions as though she used her own money, allowing her to profit from the spread.
According to colorful testimony in court proceedings, discrepancies started arising, but Moran offered excuses. Then closed circuit video showed that on one occasion no customers were present when she booked $20,000 in transactions. Finally, a colleague told supervisors, according to the Scottish Daily Record, that Moran had bragged “that in the event of a daily shortfall, the amount could be manually corrected on the computer terminal to prevent the managers or supervisors becoming aware.”
Besides her Las Vegas/New York trip, Moran used the loot to fund trips to Florida, Spain, Lapland and Euro Disney. She paid off debts of herself and family members; and bought clothes, jewellery and electronic devices.
After getting caught, Moran offered at one point to repay the funds at the rate of about $55 a week. But that was rejected when it was pointed out that reimbursement would take nearly 70 years and not end until she was age 101.
Said the presiding judicial official, “I can only deal with this by the imposition of a custodial sentence.”
Following the conceit of this post, I should point out that even Moran’s own defense lawyer, Terry Gallanagh, felt it necessary in court to invoke a famous slogan. In this case it was Thomas Cook’s own marketing pitch, “Don’t Book It, Thomas Cook It.”
His client, Gallanagh said, “booked it and cooked the books.”
That deserves a rimshot worthy of a Vegas stand-up comic.