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There’s no getting away with it

Member: Nifa

An annual audit unearthed fraud by a school business manager, but it was only after a six-year investigation that she was finally jailed. The manager and her partner, who lived in Gillingham in Kent, siphoned off money from the school over a period of six months in 2011. They got friends to cash fraudulent cheques worth between £7,500 and £32,000 totalling more than £220,000 and then transferred the cash into their own accounts. Once the money was banked in late 2011, the woman left the school and the pair moved to The Gambia, where they bought a property and a fleet of taxis and minibuses.

In the woman’s absence, an audit in 2012 found the cheque payouts and discovered there were no corresponding invoices. School authorities reported the matter to police and forensic accountants traced the cheques to bank accounts around the Gillingham area.

Further investigation found that these accounts belonged to friends of the couple. On investigation of their accounts, detectives found that the money had resided there for a short time but that all accounts had been emptied by the end of December 2011.

The woman was arrested in December 2014 on her return to the UK after the relationship with her partner broke down. He was arrested the following year, but both denied knowledge of the theft, blaming each other.

As the investigating officer commented, it was a difficult case that took more than six years to bring to trial, with most witnesses reluctant to give evidence. In a forensic investigation, once an anomaly has been found, the evidence is gathered and the money trail is tracked. However, much more evidence gathering is involved often including interviewing witnesses, obtaining telephone records and analysing financial  documentation.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “Forensic investigations are vital in helping to uncover potentially game-changing evidence in complex cases such as this one.”

Author: Roger Isaacs 12 October 2018

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