Mum's £180,000 scam uncovered when she went on £37 B&Q shopping trip


A company uncovered a mum's six-figure scam after she went on a £37 B&Q shopping spree.

Tracy Ellis, 52, swindled her small employer out of £180,000 over five years by dipping into their business accounts.

A court heard her "destructive" actions described as a "betrayal" before she was handed a two-year jail sentence.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Ellis was employed by building contractors Ingham and Garner Ltd in 2013.

The Prescot-based firm - which handles refurbishments, extensions and fit-outs - serves public sector clients, including the NHS and local authorities.

The Liverpool Echo reported that she became "solely responsible" for the contractors' business accounts, and prosecutors told how she handled invoice payments and looked after petty cash.

But, on May 9 2022, company director Jennifer Burrows noticed the accounts were used to complete a £37.80 B&Q transaction at a store in St Helens.

The court heard that, along with Ellis, Ms Burrows was the only other staff member with access to the account PIN.

She quickly questioned the defendant, who initially suggested the transaction "might have been another employer.

She later changed her story, admitting it was "an accident and she had mistaken the company card for her own", prompting Ms Burrows to carry out additional checks.

The director discovered the mum-of-three repaid the sum "along with a further payment" and that the card was used in another suspicious transaction on May 5 and to withdraw £300 in cash on April 22.

A full internal investigation found she had stolen a total of £181,958.95 from her employers, spread through 139 separate transactions dating back to January 2017, and paid into 12 accounts, including those of family members.

The court heard that Ellis, who prosecutor Christopher Hopkins described as "well thought of" within the company, "phoned in sick" after the theft was discovered.

Ellis had no previous convictions, and her defending lawyer, Andrew McInnes, said she had "taken a destructive path" and was "terrified at the prospect of what might follow".

She admitted to fraud by abuse of position and was jailed for two years and eight months.

Ellis will return to the court later this year when, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, she may be ordered to repay the money.

Recorder Eric Lamb said during sentencing that she had "resorted to a fantasy life at a time of low self-esteem" while drinking heavily and that her former colleagues were left "hurt and upset" by her "betrayal".

Adblock test (Why?)