A New York University chemistry department manager heisted $409,000 from the school since 2003 — and he would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for a meddling kid. History and film major Michael Peaden busted the frighteningly simple petty cash scam, in which chem department budget coordinator John Runowicz allegedly traded in 13,000 discarded liquor store receipts for reimbursement money, according to the Post.
The 24-year-old student heard about Runowicz's scam through a friend in work-study, who the 47-year-old NYU staffer had hired to submit receipts that he had picked out of the trash in front of a Broadway liquor store to the bursar's office. "She told me that she'd brought the receipts to their attention a few times, and they shrugged, basically, is what she told me," he said. "I'm like, 'No, this is beyond odd.' I lost sleep over it. I was, like, 'Was there that much wine in that department?' I mean, there could be $1,000 a day in receipts … I was joking, 'Boy, they sure know how to get drunk over there.'"
So Peaden informed the school's director of investigation of the scam, and an internal audit discovered that Runowicz had been claiming the liquor store receipts were his out-of-pocket expenses for "lab supplies" and "events," according to the tabloid. Apparently, the bursar's office never questioned the fact that all of the receipts said the words "Warehouse Wines, 735 Broadway" on top. "I guess I saved them a lot of money," said Peaden, who was not thanked by the school for the tip and only learned of the results of the investigation from news accounts. "I guess I was their internal auditing mechanism."