A former ad strategist will serve up to seven years in a North Carolina prison after falsifying accounts worth an estimated $269 million, sources have confirmed.
Bill Grizack defrauded ad agencies McKinney and The Variable (formerly Pave Advertising) by creating fake contracts from Coca-Cola and spirits giant Brown-Forman (which makes Jack Daniel’s) in an eight-month scheme that began in 2011.
His deception costed the agencies a total lose of US$4 million as well as dozens of jobs.
Motivated by greed and power, Grizack developed legitimate search engine software, which he sold to clients. The conman needed to bring in US$500,000 in new business to become a partner at Pave without paying a $150,000 fee.
Unable to do this through legitimate software sales, Grizack developed an elaborate plot to falsify contracts, email addresses, phone numbers and documents, and then even impersonated client contacts when the fake contact details were followed up.
The agencies hired 40 staff to work on the bogus accounts and all of them lost their jobs when Grizack’s deception was uncovered.
After leaving the two agencies, Grizack continued to defraud other agencies across the country in a remarkably shady run from August 2012 to March 2016 until his deceit finally caught up with him. These included San Francisco agencies Venables & Partners, Goodby Silverstein & Partners and the Bay Area office of Omnicom consultancy Interbrand.
Grizack pleaded guilty to defrauding McKinney and The Variable on March 3.
In handing down the sentence, North Carolina Superior Court Judge John Craig said he had never presided over a case like this and joked there were “certain politicians who could probably take notes from this man”.
State prosecutor Scott Harkey told the court Grizack’s lies and deception fuelled an upper-class lifestyle.
Source: Adnews via Adweek
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