AHA AT BAJA: Restaurant Worker Allegedly Scams $10k In Gift Cards

Boca Business News

Jerod Bornstein, courtesy Palm Beach County Jail.
Jerod Bornstein, courtesy Palm Beach County Jail.

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — The owner of Baja Cafe — 201 NW 1st Avenue — told Boca Raton police that employee Jeron Bornstein stole $10,984 from the restaurant as part of an alleged gift card scheme, a scheme that landed the 23 year old Boca resident in the Palm Beach County Jail.
Here are the specifics, outlined in the arrest report filed by Boca Raton Police:

On 8/5/13 at approximately 1115 hrs, I responded to 201 NW 1st Ave (Baja Cafe) in
reference to a theft.  Upon arrival I met the owner, W/M Mario Duva.  Duva advised that
over the past 5 months, an ex-employee (W/M Jaron Bornstein) had scammed him out of
$10,984.  Duva stated that Jaron would ring up sales throughout his shift as if the
customers were paying with a gift certificate, when in reality they were not; this way
Jaron would not be responsible for turning in those amounts of cash at the end of the
night.   Duva further advised that since Jaron was hired in March 2013, he never turned in
a single gift certificate at the end of the night while cashing out.  Duva advised that
he only became suspicious on 7/27/13, when Jaron claimed $235.33 in gift certificate
transactions during one shift.   Duva said that at the end of the shift on 8/3/13, his
manager confronted Jaron when he noticed him turn in another gift certificate transaction.
He said that Jaron then got upset and ran out of the restaurant and didn`t return.  On
8/4/13, Duva spoke to Jaron over the phone, and told him that if he returned all of the
money he had scammed, no charges would be pressed.  Duva said that Jaron agreed to return
all $10,984, but could only pay him back in insallments because he didn`t have the full
amount all at once; this was not acceptable to Duva so he then decided to contact the
police.
 
Duva told me that after getting suspicious on 7/27/13, he pulled all of Jaron`s
transaction records since March 1, 2013, and in total he had rung up $10,984 of
fraudulent, un-verified, gift certificate transactions.  Duva also confirmed that he has
copies of all of Jaron`s end of shift transaction receipts, and that he can print them out
and provide them if needed.  He gave me two of Jaron`s most recent receipts (7/27, 7/15)
showing gift certificate transactions, as well as a sales report summery totaling all of
his claimed transactions from 3/1/13 – 8/03/13, which showed the $10,984 gift certificate
total.  I asked Duva if there was any possible way that someone else could have rung up
these transactions under Jaron`s cash register account, and he advised that there was not
because each employee has their own personal password they must enter when registering transactions.
 
Duva also said that in the past, he normally averages around $2,000/year in
gift certificate transactions from all employees combined.
 
I was then able to get ahold of Jaron via telephone, and he stated that he would talk to
me but was currently in West Boca and did not have a ride into the police station.
Because of this, I drove out to West Boca and gave Jaron a ride back to the PD so that I
could sit down with him for a consensual interview.  Once at the PD, I audio recorded my
interview with Jaron, which started with me advising him of his Miranda rights.  When I
asked Jaron about the large sum of gift certificate transactions, he stated that it was
never explained to him that the gift certificates were supposed to get turned in at the
end of the night.  Jaron claimed that he did in fact receive over $10,000 in gift
certificates from customers over the past 5 months, but that he always threw them in the
garbage and never turned them in or showed them to a manager.  When asked about why he
offered to repay Mario all of the money, he said that he was doing it to be nice, not
because he had done anything wrong.
 
Based upon my investigation, I determined that it was more likely that not that Jaron was
lying about the gift certificates he had received, and that he did fraudulently report
$10,984 worth of these transactions in order to keep the cash.  Because of this I placed
Jaron under arrest and charged him with Grand Theft per FSS 812.014(1c3) and Organized Scheme to Defraud per FSS 817.034(4a3).
After processing, Jaron was transported to the county jail.