Fraudster used online accountancy software to siphon money

AN ACCOUNTANT has been jailed after she was caught stealing money through an internet-based accountancy system she set up.

Sarah Coles pleaded guilty to fraud and was jailed for two years at Norwich Crown Court. She stole £17,500 from her employer and faked documents to live out a fantasy of owning a £1m mansion, The Daily Mail reports.

Cole began working for Ashfords, a grounds maintenance firm in Norwich in 2011, on a part-time basis earning a little more than £10,000. While there she convinced the company to move to an online accounting system which would save it time. However, she used the system to transfer £17,561 to her own account.

She rented a luxury home from a couple later claiming she wanted to buy it from them. However, that couple is now thousands of pounds in debt from legal fees on work carried out to arrange the sale, lost rent and repairs to the house.

In Norwich Crown Court it was claimed that Cole’s husband was forced to give up work due to ill health and she began drinking, causing her to become delusional.

“She became delusional that the money would come back,’ Mr Goodman told the court. ‘Rather than a cynical fraudster she had a genuine belief that money would eventually come back to her,” said her solicitor Jonathan Goodman.

Ashfords has said the impact of her fraud on the business has brought it to its knees as well as damaging its reputation.  

Related reading