Accounting concerns sparked investigation into massive employee fraud

The Office Manager of a property firm stole more than £900,000 from her employers over almost three years and was eventually caught after concerns emerged over company accounting activity.

Emma Hunt lied to friends about the source of her ‘income’ and, in an attempt to buy their affection, treated them to parties, hospitality at sporting events and even a £40,000 party at a castle, as well as buying luxury holidays and cars for herself.

However, the real source of the money was through theft from her employer and some of the firm’s clients.

Hunt perpetrated the fraud by transferring rental payments from tenants into her own bank accounts and obtaining deposits from tenants that were not required.

She also regularly created false invoices totalling large sums for “supplies” and “business expenses”, which were again paid into her personal accounts.

The fraud was uncovered after a tenant queried the payments they were making, and Hunt’s employer began an investigation in 2019.

She initially denied the charges but was found guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court earlier this year of embezzling £899,164.77 between 31 May 2016, and 20 January 2019, and of pretending to 11 customers they had to pay deposits for flats when no sums were due and obtaining £7,295 by fraud.

She was also found guilty of transferring money into her brother’s account to pay for items, including a bulldozer, and purchasing goods, services, hospitality, holidays and cars. Hunt will now be the subject of proceedings for a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

After sentencing in August, a spokesman for Police Scotland, who led the investigation, said that Hunt “clearly believed that her criminality would go undetected” and it could well have done, as employee fraud costs UK businesses around £190 million every year.

Business owners can often be so focused on building their businesses that they can miss the tell-tale signs of employee fraud.

They could have that worry taken away if they engaged a firm of forensic accountants to review the business’s financial processes and check for potential gaps and loopholes.

Helen Gregory, Forensic Director at Milsted Langdon, said: “Forensic accountants are experts are spotting anomalies and, if an investigation is needed, they know how to preserve potential evidence should the matter go to court.

“In this case, the police and prosecution are commencing POCA proceedings against Hunt to ensure that crime doesn’t pay. A confiscation order could help recompense her employer or other victims that were subject to her fraud and suffered a financial penalty from her actions.”

Source: BBC News

Posted in The Forensic Blog.