'Cappuccino crime wave' as recession hits lavish lifestyles

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RECESSION-hit middle-managers are turning to fraud and deception to maintain their free-spending lifestyles, a new study revealed yesterday.

In what experts are calling a "cappuccino crime wave", hard-up mid-level managers are increasingly tempted to defraud their employers as job insecurity and falling bonus payments leave them unable to maintain their standard of living.

The report comes in the wake of several recent high-level fraud cases.

Former Edinburgh-based Lloyds TSB boss Susan Burnett was jailed for 13 months in October for embezzling nearly 15,000 and obtaining more than 7,000 by fraud to pay off her own debts.

Edinburgh lawyer Michael Karus was also found guilty of embezzling 400,000 last month, some of which he used to pay off credit card and company debts.

And on Tuesday, bank manager James Smith admitted to defrauding his branch of Clydesdale Bank of 52,000, telling police he and his wife were struggling to cope with debts of more than 70,000.

The annual PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) crime survey found that the number of economic crimes committed by middle-management in UK companies rose to 47 per cent in 2009, up from 32 per cent in 2007.

Richard Neave, director at PWC in Scotland, said: "Middle managers on middle incomes may have stretched themselves with high mortgage repayments or school fees, and with pay freezes looming and less certain prospects for future employment, it can be all too easy for them to convince themselves their actions are defensible."

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