Nicole Taylor (39), an Oldham, UK bank manager drafted in to balance the books stole almost GBP 245 000 to fund a compulsion to gamble online, siphoning off the money from company cash reserves over an 11 month period, a criminal court was told this week.
Taylor said that she had hoped to hit a jackpot and repay the money before she could be discovered.
Forensic auditors said that the reserve at the Co-operative Bank in Oldham should have totalled GBP 300 000, but when it was finally checked after senior bank officers had become suspicious of her activities, there was just GBP 31,350 remaining.
Taylor had been called in to resolve a number of minor cash discrepancies. When interviewed she said her dishonesty had begun when she falsified the books to cover up a genuine shortfall she had been unable to resolve.
She realised how easy it was and began taking money to finance her online gambling – a problem she had had for a number of years but kept secret from her partner and family.
Taylor pleaded guilty to 17 specimen counts of fraud involving a total of GBP 29,170 at an earlier hearing and asked for a further 133 offences involving a total of GBP 215,220 to be taken into consideration.
Jailing her for two years, Recorder Peter Cowan, told her: “You persistently abused the trust placed in you over a period of some 11 months, and I have been unable to conclude that anything but an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate.”
Prosecutor Geoff Whelan said suspicions were aroused by a number of high value debit card transactions to online gambling sites which were being carried out on an almost daily basis.
During a four-month period, more than 40 payments totalling almost GBP 82,000 were made into one of the savings accounts. Further credits valued at more than GBP 27,000 were made into another.
Taylor’s legal representative said that she had never previously been in trouble, and she had an impeccable record during a 10-year career with the Manchester-based Co-operative Bank.
She had been a highly-valued member of staff, and had been held in such esteem by her superiors that she had been chosen to sort out problems at the Oldham branch, which she had regarded as a challenge. She said Taylor had suffered personal difficulties from a young age.