A bookkeeper was caught defrauding her employers when she used the company credit card to pay for goods at B&Q
Tracy Ellis, from Liverpool, stole around £180,000 from her employer over more than five years, before eventually being caught after she went shopping at B&Q.
She has been handed a prison sentence for over two years after stealing £180,000 from her employer through a series of separate transactions over a five-year period.
Described as living out a ‘fantasy lifestyle’ during a trial at Liverpool Crown Court, Ellis stole large sums of money while she worked as a bookkeeper for building contractor Ingham and Garner Ltd.
The company, which provided refurbishments and extensions for public sector clients such as the NHS and local authorities, granted Ellis ‘sole responsibility’ for its accounts in September 2013.
Over the next five years, Ellis stole a total of £181,948.95 from her employer through more than 139 separate transactions. These had been paid into 12 separate accounts, including those of her family members.
The scam was identified when company director Jennifer Burrows noticed that the business account had been used to complete a £37.80 transaction at B&Q. She then confronted Ellis as she was the only member of staff who had been trusted with the PIN for the card.
Despite Ellis’ best efforts to suggest that it might have been another employee, she later admitted that she had made the purchase, but claimed it had been an accident – mistaking the company card for her own.
This caused Burrows to carry out further checks on the account, at which point she noticed that Ellis had repaid the sum along with a further payment.
She had also spotted that the card had previously been used to carry out another suspicious transaction on 5 May 2022, and another withdrawal of £300 had been made from a cash machine in the previous month.
This prompted a full internal investigation, which uncovered the series of fraudulent transactions that Ellis had been making. After the theft was discovered, Ellis phoned in sick and was later dismissed.
Appearing at Liverpool Crown Court, Ellis admitted fraud by abuse of position. She was jailed for two years and eight months.
Sentencing, Eric Lamb said: ‘You abused that trust which had been placed in you. You abused that position to enrich yourself and others. Although your actions were directed against the company, you knew all too well and all too personally the people involved – just as they knew you.
‘You resorted to a fantasy life at a time of low self-esteem, seeking escapism by giving gifts. The impact on the company has been substantial. It has understandably been stressful for those remaining at the company. They are left to feel hurt and upset by what they would sense was a betrayal that had taken place.’