News: Theft As A Servant

Overseas Cases (or click here for New Zealand employee theft cases)


UK - Recruitment agency employee stole £2.9 million
29 August 2014

Dennis Harold, a 60 year-old administrator at London recruitment company Devonshire Appointments was today sentenced to four years imprisonment for stealing £2.9 million (NZ$5.7 million) from his employer.

Harold who had worked at the company for 14 years, invented fake employees and paid wages into bank accounts in false company names.

He spent £1.2m on gambling, an "expensive divorce", £300,000 towards a £600,000 house, a £54,000 car and sending money to a woman in Thailand.

His scam was discovered by a colleague, Shamsur Rahman, in 2008, but Rahman demanded a cut amounting to £1.1m, instead of reporting it to bosses. Rahman has since pleaded guilty to acquiring criminal property.

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UK - Lloyds head of security admits stealing £2.4 million
21 September 2012

The head of online fraud and security at Lloyds Bank in London has pleaded guilty to stealing £2,463,750.88 (NZ$4.9 million) from her employer during the period 2007-2011

The prosecutions alleged 50 year-old Jessica Harper spent much of the money on improvements to a property in the south of France. 

When arrested, Harper told Police “I deserve the money as I work such long hours”.

She was sentenced to five years imprisonment.

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Australia – University cashier stole $37 million
8 July 2011

Christopher Fuss, a 47 year-old cashier at Adelaide's Flinders University has been sentenced for stealing AUD$27,354,903 (NZ$37.3 million) from his employer during the period January 2008 to January 2010.

On 58 occasions Fuss falsified financial and banking records transferring money to his own bank account, to the bank accounts of some associates and to a share trading account.

He bought a share in the Adelaide 36ers National Basketball League team, purchased $1.7 million home and held $3.3 million worth of shares. His lawyer had claimed Fuss was not motivated by greed but rather, to make money for the university.

Fuss was sentenced to nine years imprisonment. All but $1 million of the stolen money is expected to be recovered.

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USA - Ernst & Young employee jailed for $2.2 million embezzlement
28 October 2010

Lily Aspillera, a 66 year-old Executive Assistant at the San Francisco office of Ernst & Young has been sentenced to 2½ years imprisonment for defrauding her employer of $1.7 million (NZ$2.2 million).

She spent the money on two BMWs, jewellery, holidays at luxury resorts, and the deposit for a San Francisco home.

She was ordered to repay the $1.7 million, as well as tax arrears of $644,843 on the money she stole but failed to declare as income, to the Internal Revenue Service.

Ernst & Young is a global accounting and tax advisory company responsible for detecting other companies' fraudulent activity. Aspillera’s fraud went undetected by her employer for six years.

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UK - CEO jailed for stealing £85,000 from charities
30 January 2010

Fifty year-old Julie Burns of Kent was today sentenced to three years imprisonment for stealing more than £85,363 (NZ$194,000) from two children's charities.

Burns, a Barrister, was CEO of the Joint Educational Trust (JET) but over six years unlawfully wrote out 48 cheques to herself. It is believed she may have stolen even more during her 10 years of employment, but the charity's records only went back to 2003.

In 2008, she left the Trust to join the Royal Wanstead Children's Foundation but within a few weeks tried to use the Foundation's cheques to pay £15,000 of JET’s bills in an attempt to conceal her earlier offending.

Burns was further convicted of CV fraud when it was discovered she had lied on her job application to the Foundation. She had claimed that she had no criminal convictions but had in fact previously served a two-year sentence after admitting six charges of obtaining money by deception.

Commenting on Burns offending, the Foundation’s Chairman, Colin Morrison, said "It probably undermines the ethos of trust and goodwill that charities must depend on. It does remind you that we have to have the best checks available, and be on your guard."

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UK - Toys ‘R’ Us Manager jailed for £3.7 million fraud
19 December 2009

A 58 year-old Finance Manager at Toys ‘R’ Us has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for money laundering after defrauding his employer of  £3.7 million (NZ$8.3 million).

Paul Hopes had worked for the American toy company’s UK head office in Maidenhead for 23 years, eventually being promoted, without qualifications, to the position of Accounts Payable Manager, earning a £56,000 salary.  

However, he used his trusted position to create false invoices over an 18 month period and spent the money on prostitutes, cocaine, upmarket hotels and luxury cars. He bought a £132,000 (NZ$295,000) Bentley car for one prostitute as well as giving her £1.5 million; and he paid off the mortgage of another, whilst a third prostitute bought land in Nigeria with her money.

Hopes was only caught when a neighbour of one of the prostitutes became suspicious of the woman’s new Bentley and reported it, thinking she might be a drug dealer.  Police found a cheque for £10,000 from Hopes at her home and followed the trail back from there.

The sentencing Judge questioned how such a "simple fraud" could have taken place at a large firm like Toys 'R' Us, without the company discovering it themselves.

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UK - KPMG Director imprisoned for stealing £545,000 from employer
16 September 2009

Andrew Wetherall, a 49 year-old Director in the British office of KPMG has been sentenced to four years imprisonment for stealing £545,620  (NZ$1.3 million) from his employer.

Wetherall, who was paid a six-figure salary, defrauded KPMG for over six years by submitting multiple claims for legitimate travel as well as personal holidays to Singapore and Thailand..

He was reimbursed £480,000 for air travel but over half of this was made up of false invoices that he had altered or created himself. He also claimed £4,000 for a designer watch, £2,000 for a camera and computer equipment and a further £74,000 for luxury cars.

He told Police investigators that once he started stealing it became easier and easier as there were few controls or restrictions upon him.

KPMG is a global accountancy firm renowned for the leading role it plays in detecting other companies' fraudulent activity.

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UK - Nurse jailed for breaking into patients' homes
1 May 2009

A Nurse who broke into the houses of his elderly patients and stole money and goods has been jailed for two years.

Earlwin Huliganga, a 33 year-old Filipino, took keys from a safe at Epsom General Hospital and entered the empty homes whilst knowing the residents were away.

One, a 79 year-old retired clergyman, returned from a month-long trip to New Zealand to find his laptop, camera, flat-screen television and car stolen.

Huliganga also stole patients’ money and personal items from the hospital ward safe.

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USA - Study reveals more than half of ex-employees admit to stealing company data
1 March 2009

Symantec and the Ponemon Institute have announced the findings of a joint survey of employees who lost or left a job in 2008, which revealed 59 percent of ex-employees admit to stealing confidential company information, such as customer contact lists.

The most commonly identified kinds of records taken included e-mail lists, employee records, customer information including contact lists, and non-financial information. Although respondents were spread across many different industries, the highest percentage of survey responses came from the financial services industry.

About 53 percent of respondents downloaded information onto a CD or DVD, 42 percent onto a USB drive and 38 percent sent attachments to a personal e-mail account.

A staggering 24 percent of respondents had access to their employer’s computer system or network after their departure from the company.

The Ponemon Institute conducted the web-based survey in January 2009, polling nearly 1,000 adult participants located in the United States who left an employer within the past 12 months.

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UK - Lack of checks allowed £280,000 fraud
26 February 2009

An inquiry has found that a lawyer was able to defraud the National Health Service of almost £280,000 (NZ$800,000) because officials failed to carry out the most basic financial checks, apparently because he was a former colleague.

Over a period of seven years, Northern Ireland solicitor George Brangam was able to defraud hospitals because no one bothered to check the invoices he submitted. Brangam who had previously worked in the NHS as Director of Legal Services never aroused suspicion when he requested that cheques be made out in his name and not the name of the compensation claimant.

The lawyer, who is now dead, defrauded six health trusts in Northern Ireland on medical negligence cases from 1999 to 2006.

He would invoice them for sums well above the size of the actual compensation settlements then keep the difference, making up to £75,000 at a time.

He conducted the fraud despite already being paid around £7 million (NZ$20 million) in legal fees from the NHS from 1996 to 2006.

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UK - Company forced to lay off 26 staff after employee steals £630,000
17 February 2009

A 52 year-old Liverpool accounts clerk has been convicted of stealing £630,000 (NZ$1.76 million) from her employer over a 4½ year period.

Sheila Hodgetts used her access to the company’s electronic wages register to invent fake employees and pocket the wages paid to the non-existent employees.

The extent of her offending was so significant that the company had to lay off 26 staff because of major cash-flow problems she had caused.

Hodgetts also told her employer, an engineering company, that she was dying of cancer so she could take time off to have cosmetic surgery. The Judge said her claims of having cancer were a 'cruel lie' to detract her boss from suspecting dishonest activity.

When her employer began to have suspicions about Hodgetts she went off sick again and then used a fake CV to secure a job with a rival firm. She stole a further £3,535 (NZ$10,000) from that company.

When Hodgetts was arrested, she also admitted stealing £125,000 (NZ$350,000) from a third business, but escaped prosecution because the company did not want to press charges.

In a victim impact statement the owner of the engineering company said that in 27 years running the business, “nothing comes close to the prolonged and premeditated betrayal of trust by Hodgetts”.

Hodgetts was sentenced to five and a half years imprisonment and was described by the Judge as a “serial fraudster and accomplished liar”.

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USA - Senior financial analyst steals details of 2 million customers
4 December 2008

A senior financial analyst of the Countrywide Financial Corporation, a home mortgage lender, has been charged by the FBI with stealing and selling the personal information of an estimated two million customers.

By his own admission, for more than two years, Rene Rebollo downloaded the names and details of about 20,000 customers every week onto a removable flash drive, working on Sunday nights, when no one else was in the office. Rebollo had known that the Countrywide computers had security features that restricted downloads of data to an external source, but he had found a computer in the office with a functioning USB port.

Rebollo then sold the information to third parties, notably the details of customers who had turned down offers of lending finance from Countrywide.

It is estimated he earned US$50-70,000 from selling the customer data. His annual salary had been US$65,000.

The 36 year-old was released on bail but just six days after describing to the FBI how he stole the data, he contacted a witness offering to sell him more Countrywide customer names. Rebollo is due to stand trial in January 2009.

Some of the victims of Rebollo’s activities are pursuing a class-action again the Bank of America, the owner of Countrywide Financial Corporation.

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Australia – Bank manager stole $4 million
31 August 2007

A former Westpac Bank manager in Sydney was jailed for at least five years for stealing nearly $4 million from customers' accounts.

Brendan Gaffney created loans in customers' names at the bank's Chatswood branch and then transferred $3.7 million to his own account between February 2003 and January 2005.

The 42-year-old used the money to unsuccessfully bet on horses. He said he used the money to place bets with people he wanted to network with to get ahead at work, but they never paid him back.

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Australia – Clerk steals $103,000 in six weeks
30 August 2007

A data-entry operator working for a Brisbane mining company who earned $600 a week was convicted of stealing $103,976 from her employer, all in the space of six weeks.

Twenty-six year-old New Zealand-born Iloai Suanui used her computer skills to transfer the money into her bank account and spent it on a lavish lifestyle, including a $750 a week apartment and foreign travel. It was whilst she was on an extended holiday overseas that the offending was discovered.

She was sentenced to four years imprisonment. None of the money was ever recovered.

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USA – Homeland Security CEO nominee withdraws
30 June 2006

Bernard Kerik was Police Commissioner of the City of New York from 2000 to 2001. In December 2004, President Bush nominated Kerik to be Secretary of Homeland Security. A week later, Kerik withdrew his acceptance, explaining that he had employed an illegal immigrant as a nanny. Subsequently, numerous allegations surfaced which might have led to a difficult confirmation.

Kerik has been married three times but he concealed his first wife and had abandoned a Korean daughter for most of her life. He accepted unreported gifts from firms doing business with New York City, was expelled from Saudi Arabia after a physical confrontation with a local police official and was fined $2,500 for assigning detectives to help research a book he was writing. His most recent wedding was partly paid for by people with city contracts and it is reported he used $3,000 of police funds to commission 30 busts of his head.

In 2006, Kerik pleaded guilty to two unrelated ethics violations after an investigation by the Bronx District Attorney's Office, and was ordered to pay $221,000. He is currently under investigation for tax evasion.

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CV Fraud: NZ

CV Fraud: Overseas

Theft As A Servant: NZ

Theft As A Servant: Overseas

Employer Failure: NZ

Employer Failure: Overseas