A UCSB staff member was recently arrested in connection with a series of fraudulent laptop purchases worth a combined total of $9,976 to allegedly help pay her ailing mother’s medical bills.
Over the course of two months Tracy Vaiuso, an administrative assistant in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Dept., allegedly filed fraudulent paperwork in order to illegally obtain nine MacBooks from the university. Vaiuso is accused of attempting to sell the stolen computers on www.craigslist.org for personal profit. Police first became aware of the activity on March 25.
Vaiuso was later booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of burglary and an investigation is currently in motion to recover four of the missing laptops.
University of California Police Dept. spokesman Matt Bowman claimed Vaiuso abused her position and knowledge of the bureaucratic workings of the university to burgle the equipment.
“She was working as an administrative assistant so she was familiar with the process of purchasing equipment,” Bowman said. “She used this capacity to fraudulently file paperwork for laptops at the UCSB Bookstore.”
Bowman said the illegal activity was uncovered after an employee noticed the signatures on the request forms had been forged.
“The paperwork was signed by individuals who no longer work at the university, so an employee at the bookstore became suspicious,” Bowman said.
Bowman said that investigators believe Vaiuso may have conducted the thefts to help her mother.
“The reason she was stealing and selling the laptops online was to help her mother who was in a poor financial situation,” he said.
Vaiuso was later released from jail and she resigned from her position at the university. However, the investigation will proceed until police recover the outstanding property.