Mary Ann Bandarek, 28, of St. Paul, a former staff of American Red Cross North Central Blood Services is facing charges of credit card fraud for unauthorized purchases. Bandarek who previously worked for American Red Cross as an HR officer, was given a credit card by her company to be strictly used for official transactions. However, she is now facing allegations of using the credit card to pay for expenses unrelated to what it was originally designed for.
The case started when a hotel's staff became suspicious of a man who stated that his house has been blown away by Tornado Hugo and that Red Cross is paying for his hotel accommodations. Police were called in and confronted the man, who at that time was also arrested for driving after suspension.
During the course of the interrogation, the man confessed that he was not a victim of Tornado Hugo, and that his hotel room bills were not being shouldered by the American Red Cross. The man identified Bardarek as the one who used her company authorized credit card to pay for his hotel bills. The man also had a woman companion staying in an adjacent room also paid for by Bardarek. Police later found out that that the said lady had an erotic services ad in Craigslist.
The man confessed that he was previously committed to Bandarek and that the woman with him in the hotel is his current girlfriend. Authorities suspect the man and woman to be members of a prostitution ring.
When police did a background check of Bandarek's credit card records, they found that she had previously made a number of suspicious personal transactions.
Bandarek was initially issued by American Red Cross a visa credit card for official purposes. She was also made to sign an agreement that she would adhere to policies of the company regarding credit card use.
However, she failed to honor her obligation and used her credit card for restaurant bills, car rentals, and hotel accommodations. She also faked invoices to make it look like her personal charges were official in nature.
In December of 2008, American Red Cross confronted her regarding the unauthorized purchases on her card and Bandarek replied that her credit card must have been stolen. The charitable group promptly issued her another card.
However, she continued to rack up unofficial bills and purchases with the new credit card and was eventually forced to resign from the company in May of 2009, when American Red Cross again found out about her spending sprees.