St. Joseph woman charged with wire fraud in scam targeting a Kalamazoo manufacturing business

 

Kris Fratzke bilked her employer, Flare Fittings, of $540,000 in a phony billing scheme

Date: May 21, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Felony charges were filed today against a St. Joseph, Michigan woman for defrauding her employer of $540,000 in a phony billing scheme. Kris Marie Fratzke was the chief financial officer of Flare Fittings, a manufacturing company located in Kalamazoo.

The Felony Information filed today in U.S. District Court contains two charges: wire fraud and filing a false tax return. The wire fraud charge states that, between 2013 and 2019, Fratzke created a shell company she called Mid America Fittings, because that would appear to be a real supplier of materials to Flare Fittings, a pipe manufacturing company. She then created phony invoices for the shell company and paid them using her authority over the finances of the company. In this manner, she issued 235 checks, totaling over $540,000, to her shell company and then deposited that money into her personal account and used the funds for personal expenses. The tax charge relates that Fratzke did not declare this income to the Internal Revenue Service.

The federal wire fraud statute carries a maximum possible sentence of twenty years in prison, a fine of twice the fraud proceeds, a restitution order and other sanctions. Filing a false tax return carries a maximum possible penalty of three years in prison, a $250,000 fine and other penalties.

Agents of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, Department of Homeland Security, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigated this case. Timothy VerHey, Assistant United States Attorney, is handling the prosecution.

No court date has yet been set for Fratzke to appear in court. The charges in a Felony Information are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.