A BANK worker who stole almost £220,000 from customers to fund her “luxury lifestyle” was jailed for three years yesterday.
Julie Fraser, a customer relations manager at a Bank of Scotland branch in Kirkcaldy, repeatedly dipped into customers’ accounts and transferred money to herself over a five-and-a-half year period, a court heard.
Her fraud – which totalled £218,314.93 – was uncovered when a monitoring system highlighted an internal transfer of £5,000 from one customer account to another.
Fraser, 52, from Cupar, told fraud investigators that she had done it because the customer “wasn’t good with finances so wouldn’t notice the money was missing”.
She then said she needed the money because of her divorce – and used the cash to “put her daughter through university, buy luxury goods and fund a good lifestyle”.
A further investigation uncovered a total of 26 transactions in which she had taken cash from customers and given it to herself.
One of her four victims had £152,500 stolen from her account.
Fiscal depute Dev Kapadia told Cupar Sheriff Court that Fraser had admitted the offences as soon as she was confronted by fraud investigators.
He said: “The offence came to light on 22 October, 2012, when the monitoring system highlighted an informal transfer of £5,000 from a customer’s account into another account.
“Checks confirmed this had happened on more than one occasion.
“She was interviewed by fraud investigators and she admitted she’d done it but that the customer ‘wasn’t good with finances so wouldn’t notice money was missing’.
“She said she had done it to fund her lifestyle and to put her daughter through university.
“Further checks found a total of 26 informal transfers totalling £218,314.93 from four different customers.
“She was re-interviewed on 12 November and admitted that she had destroyed the papers relating to the transfers when she attended monthly meetings in the Perth branch.”
Fraser pleaded guilty on indictment to a charge of embezzlement committed between May 2007 and October 2012.
David Bell, defending, said Fraser had worked for the bank for 35 years before her dismissal and that the money had been repaid from her pension pot.
He said “She was divorced in 2005 and that hit her financially as well as emotionally.
“This really just spiralled to the extent the court sees today. She obviously lost her job and has lost the friendship of numerous colleagues.”
Sheriff Charles Macnair QC jailed Fraser for three years.
He said: “This embezzlement was spread over a significant period, namely five and a half years. You were in a position of trust.
“Whilst bankers have not perhaps had a good press in recent years, their problems have not been one of dishonesty.
“People put their money into banks in the hope and expectation, that is largely borne out, that their money will be safe from embezzlement.
“You have failed in that expectation.”