Sheriff clerk staged £130,000 expenses scam under noses of courtroom staff

A FORMER sheriff clerk has appeared in the court where he used to work and admitted fraudulently obtaining £130,000 from his previous employers.

Graeme Wilson, 29, altered information on juror citations so he claimed their expenses and received money for psychological assessments that had not been asked for in two fraudulent schemes set up over a period of three years.

In total, Wilson changed facts on 206 jurors relating to loss of earnings or attendance and entered false data into the computer system.

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Wilson would change the juror's name to his own and make out cheques payable to himself, which netted him approximately 52,000.

When the computer system was changed at court and Wilson was moved to a different department, he eventually set up a second scheme.

He fabricated 72 invoices purporting to come from doctors requesting payment for fees for psychological assessments which he pretended the court had called for. Cheques were sent to addresses for the false doctors, which were redirected to him. From this scam Wilson obtained about 78,000.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard that when colleagues wondered how he was able to afford a plush lifestyle, he gave a string of excuses which included having wealthy parents, working as a semi-professional rugby player and rental income from a flat.

Sheriff Deidre MacNeill, QC, told Wilson he displayed characteristics of a classic conman and said: "It is a shocking breach of trust and the scale and the way in which this has been carried out is quite breathtaking."

Fiscal depute Isabel Clark said Wilson's scam came to light when he returned to his work in March last year, three months after he left in December 2008, and handed in envelopes.

Ms Clark said: "They were conveyed along to the appropriate people, and inside the envelopes the documents handed in were invoices and requests for psychological assessments.

"The documentation indicated they had been processed internally and date-stamped by members of the sheriff court service, which could not have happened because the accused had ceased employment."

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The court heard as a result an investigation was carried out that revealed a catalogue of inconsistencies and discrepancies.

Ms Clark said: "While he was employed he was in different departments, and as a result of his employment he obviously became familiar with processes and he then regrettably has used this knowledge to commit the crimes to which he has now pled guilty."

Ms Clark added investigations showed the cash appeared to have been spent. She also said when Wilson was caught he admitted his offending and said he was the only person involved.

Wilson, a first offender, admitted forming a two fraudulent schemes between 9 January, 2006, and 24 November, 2006, and 7 October, 2007, and 6 March, 2009, and obtaining approximately 130,000 by fraud.

Sheriff MacNeill deferred sentence on Wilson for background reports until next month.