A student and track star at Lasell University in Newton, Massachusetts, is facing charges after she allegedly stole over $500,000 from the jewelry store where she worked and used at least some of those funds to buy a Tesla, purchase thousands of dollars of Louis Vuitton merchandise and pay for a trip to Hawaii.
Ariel Foster, 19, of Boston, is charged with larceny over $1,200. She is free on bail and is expected to be arraigned Friday in Woburn District Court.
Burlington police detectives said they were called to Lovisa, a jewelry store at the Burlington Mall, on Feb. 22 for a report of a credit card machine breach.
Their investigation determined that on three dates in February, items scanned at the register had their price increased, and the cost of the item was then refunded to a credit card belonging to Foster, police said. The eight transactions involved a total loss of $547,187. Foster was an employee at Lovisa and was determined to have been at the store when the credit card breaches occurred.
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Investigators subpoenaed Foster's financial institutions, which they said uncovered a refund transaction from Lovisa America LLC into her bank account. Her bank records also showed that Foster made several high-priced transactions between Feb. 2 and Feb. 22, including an expenditure of more than $35,000 for a Tesla, almost $6,000 to Delta Airlines, over $20,000 to a 5-star hotel in Maui, Hawaii, and almost $5,000 in Louis Vuitton purchases.
"My personal opinion is greed took over. When I first saw the amount, I was surprised. I thought it was a mistake," Burlington police chief Thomas Browne said. "She would have an item in the store that she would mark up over-priced and then she would return the difference onto a credit card that she owned in her name."
"At this time there is no indication or belief that she did not act alone," the chief added, noting that more charges are possible as the investigation is ongoing.
Burlington police, Boston police and Lasell University police executed search warrants at Foster's residence and her dormitory at the university in Newton on Wednesday. She was taken into custody without incident.
On Lasell's campus Thursday afternoon, fellow students, including one who saw police outside Foster's dorm, were reacting to the shocking news.
"I was shocked when I found out, like I got a text this morning about it, I couldn't believe it," said Cameron McDonough.
"I was in the building when I saw a bunch of police come into my building and everyone was panicked because they weren't sure what exactly it was," said Celina DeLano.
Lasell University has said it's conducting its own investigation.