A former Wendy's manager was found to have taken out nearly £16,000 in extra wages after creating a ghost employee. Octavio Jones/Reuters

Linda Johnson, previously a manager for the American fast-food chain, Wendy's, was found to have been collecting an additional salary during her time with the restaurant, as she was paying a completely made-up employee.

Johnson worked at a Wendy's branch in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and created a ghost employee named 'William Bright'. After creating a person for the scheme, Johnson went on to make close to £16,000 in additional earnings.

The ghost employee was paid by Johnson for 128 work shifts at the fast-food chain, with the scam spanning nearly a whole year. The former manager first began the scheme in June 2021 and kept it running all the way until when she was caught in May of the following year.

The Manheim Township Police Department found out about Johnson's scheme as the Wendy's chain reached out to them after noticing inconsistencies during an examination of the branch's accounts.

An investigation then took place, with staff at the Wendy's restaurant confirming to the police department that they had no recollection of working with an employee going by the name of William Bright. Eventually, Johnson realised her fight was lost and came clean on her scheme by admitting to making up William Bright and the shifts she clocked him in and out for.

The police found the forged paycheques to have been deposited into Johnson's Cashapp account, with the former Wendy's manager admitting that she used the extra money to help provide for her children.

Johnson was then nowhere to be found after being charged with a single count of theft by deception by the police and having a criminal case filed against her. Shortly afterwards, local news outlet, Daily Voice, confirmed that the former manager turned herself in to the authorities, before being released on unsecured bail of just below £2000.

Sergeant at Manheim Township Police Department, Barry Waltz, revealed to Lancaster Online that whilst William Bright was indeed a real person known to Johnson, he was never actually employed by the fast-food chain. Also, the police chose not to involve him in the investigation and did not look into him being a potential co-conspirator in the scheme alongside Johnson.

Wendy's insurer reacted to the incident in Pennsylvania by reportedly forking out just over £12,500.

The whole situation proved to be a major talking point on social media, with many shocked at the nature of the scheme committed.

Whilst the real William Bright was found to not be scheming with Johnson, one user was convinced that other Wendy's employees were aware of the scam and helped the manager out. The person commented: "She wasn't doing it alone, she must have been sharing the benefits with other staff."

Other users issued some level of admiration and respect towards Johnson's illegal activity, with one user saying: "I'm not gonna lie, this is smart as hell. You can't even be mad at her. 128 shifts without anyone noticing this 'new employee' is insane." Another person simply stated: "I respect the hustle."

Elsewhere, Wendy's has recently denied claims that it will increase the cost of burgers and other items on its menu during peak hours. The fast-food outlet clarified that its proposed 'digital menuboards' are planned to help give customers better access to discounts and offers during quitter times of the day, rather than raise food costs.

The dynamic pricing model has however been implemented by some companies including Uber, who increase the costs of deliveries during busy periods. This is a way of ensuring its drivers are keen to handle large amounts of deliveries amidst there being a surge in orders at a particular time.