About 3 years ago, my coworker "Charles" convinced 14 people in my org to join a Fantasy Football league with a $100 buy-in. (14 people pay $100 at the beginning, and then the $1,400 would be distributed to the top 3 teams). I was not one of these people. It was a bit much for an office pool, but he convinced everybody that it would be fun since everybody liked football.
2 days after he collected everybody's money, Charles quit the company. Our company had a stupid policy of escorting people out of the building the moment they gave notice of leaving, so nobody got the traditional 2-week notice that he was leaving.
When Charles quit, nobody had his contact information. (No e-mail, cell, address, linkedin, twitter, etc.) He also hadn't yet created the Fantasy Football league. So basically, he had taken everybody's money, but nobody had any way of contacting him. People were furious. A few e-mails were sent to HR asking for his contact info, but HR said it was against policy to give out this information. I secretly found this whole situation hilarious, but kept my mouth shut.
Fast-forward to today: I'm working at a completely different company and we're interviewing a new team member. Lo and behold, Charles shows up at the interview. He does great, and everybody wants to hire him. I really like Charles, too, and would enjoy working with him again. (He's a hard worker, one of the best developers I've ever met, and always pulls hilarious practical jokes on people).
My boss asked me what it was like working with Charles. Is it wrong for me to purposely avoid bringing up this whole Fantasy Football fiasco? I fear that it might come back to me in some way if I don't say anything, but I really don't want to bring it up and sink Charles' chance to join our team. Is it wrong for me to give him the benefit of the doubt and just assume this was an unfortunate mix-up?
( 5 months ago )
It's always safer to bring up everything you know and let your boss make the decision. If you decide not to bring it up with your boss, then you're making the decision on his or her behalf. There's a pretty decent chance that your boss will only care about the parts where you say he's a good developer and a hard worker, and will have a lot more questions about the circumstances that lead him to quit.
That being said: in this day and age, not having someone's contact information is a really terrible excuse for anything, let alone keeping $1300 of other people's money. With so much social media and professional networking, it's just really unlikely you can't solve that problem. Not to mention, he knew where everyone worked and presumably knew the work emails of everyone there, so it probably would've been fairly trivial for him to reach out and return the money. All of this couple with the fact that he quit and wasn't fired unexpectedly makes it really hard to see how it could be a mistake that he seems to have kept everyone's money.
I recommend that if possible, you check with a former colleague to see if the money was ever returned. If it wasn't or you're reasonably sure it wasn't in the case you can't get a hold of someone, I'd report what you know.