Complex university fraud uncovered by forensic investigation

The Head of Income and Payments at the University of Brighton, who used his job to steal more than £2.4 million over three decades, has been convicted of fraud by abuse of position, theft by an employee and false accounting.

David Hall concealed his fraudulent activity through a complex string of financial cover-ups, which were only discovered through thorough forensic investigation.

As the hole in the university’s finances became larger with each passing year, an audit in November 2021 uncovered the scale of the embezzlement.

After uncovering the gap in their finances, the university reported its suspicions to Sussex Police.

The police investigation, mounted in tandem with an independent financial investigation by a forensic accountant, uncovered the complex web of smokescreens.

Although he admitted his offences soon after the investigation concluded and pleaded guilty in Court, Hall faces a lengthy sentence at his sentencing in March 2023.

As a spokesperson for Sussex Police commented, the financial cover-ups implemented by Hall required “forensic scrutiny” to unravel, which means that not only will the investigators have analysed the university’s accounts but also Hall’s lifestyle and personal accounts and other data, such as emails, memos and written notes for evidence.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “From what has been published about this case it appears that like many fraudsters, Hall faced an ever-greater challenge in trying to conceal misappropriated sums that increased year on year as he stole more and more.

Often, those who perpetrate fraud, find it relatively easy to cover their tracks when they first start to steal and the amounts involved are small.  However as the amounts increase cumulatively, the task of concealing them will get increasingly difficult.

In one extreme case the author dealt with an individual who faced having to try to conceal the misappropriate of a six figure sum from a not-for-profit organisation whose largest expense item in its accounts was a charge for a few pounds under the heading “biscuits for meetings”.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, he decided he had no alternative but to confess!”

Source: Sussex Police

Posted in The Forensic Blog.