The botched Coca-Cola heist of 2006

Apr 30, 2018, 12:40 PM

From Hustle

On a hot summer afternoon in 2006, Ibrahim Dimson walked swiftly through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport clutching a yellow Girl Scout cookie box stuffed with $30k in rolled-up $50 and $100 bills.

Minutes earlier, he’d handed off an Armani Exchange duffle bag containing dozens of stolen Coca-Cola documents and a vial of a secret formula — all marked “highly confidential” — to “Jerry,” a man who claimed to be a Pepsi executive.

Everything was going according to plan. Dimson and his inside source at Coke had hundreds of trade secrets they planned to sell to Pepsi, and this was just the beginning.

But there was just one problem: Jerry wasn’t who he claimed to be — and unbeknownst to Dimson and his accomplices, the shit was about to hit the fan.

At Coca-Cola, secrecy is the lifeblood of corporate culture.

Workers are routinely subjected to security checks. Surveillance cameras dot every corner of the building. Their crown jewel, the original Coke formula, is supposedly locked in a multi-million dollar vault; only two people on Earth know it, and they fly on separate planes when traveling in case of an accident.

In this hyper-secretive culture, Joya Williams was the model employee.

The daughter of a church deacon and a Sunday school superintendent, she’d worked for 3.5 years at Coca-Cola’s largest bottling factory before joining corporate in 2005. As the administrative assistant to the Global Head of Marketing, she was entrusted with sensitive emails, internal documents, and yet-to-be-released products.

But 14 months into her $50k-per-year job, she began to feel she wasn’t being “treated right” — and she formulated a plan to stab them in the back.

In late 2005, Williams was introduced to a friend of a friend named Edmund Duhaney. A 40-year-old father of three, Duhaney had just gotten out of prison on cocaine charges and was looking for work.

Williams told him she possessed a trove of “highly classified” Coca-Cola documents that would likely be worth money to the company’s major competitor, Pepsi — but she’d signed a non-disclosure agreement and couldn’t deliver the goods herself.

She needed a middle-man, and Duhaney knew just the guy: his buddy Ibrahim Dimson, a young white-collar embezzler and self-proclaimed “charmer” he’d met in prison.

Under the alias “Dirk,” Dimson sent a letter (in an official Coca-Cola envelope) addressed to a Senior VP at Pepsi, claiming he was a high-level Coca-Cola executive with “extremely confidential” trade secrets.

Two weeks later, much to the delight of Joya Williams, Dimson received a call from a supposed PepsiCo employee by the name of “Jerry.” He was interested and asked Dimson for proof he could deliver.

Dimson faxed Jerry 14 pages of Coca-Cola documents — almost all marked “confidential information” or “classified-highly restricted” — and told Jerry that he needed to wire money to a provided bank account to show he was a “serious partner.”

Shortly thereafter, he received a transfer for $5k. And then, the real heist began

As a trusted middle-woman between top-level execs, Joya Williams procured not just troves of documents (presentations, internal emails, development proposals), but actual samples of unreleased products.

Late one night at the Coca-Cola Headquarters — a towering, modern monstrosity in midtown Atlanta — Williams stuffed her bag with manila folders of classified paperwork and a small vial of a “secret” product under development.

Once procured, these artifacts were passed on to Dimson, who promptly convinced Jerry to purchase them for $75k — $30k upfront, and $45k later after tests.

In mid-June, the two met at Hartsfield-Jackson International airport in Atlanta, where, in broad daylight, Dimson handed over a brown Armani Exchange duffle bag full of the goods in exchange for a Girl Scout cookie box stuffed with cash.

Dimson left the airport, got into a car with his pal, Duhaney, and booked it to Decatur, Georgia, where they di...