A finance boss who embezzled more than £ 60,000 and spent it on flights, holidays, and designer shoes has been ordered to pay back just £ 1.’Greedy’ Vicki Fortune funnelled thousands of pounds into her own accounts just weeks after joining a construction business which has worked on Westminster Palace, a court heard.
The company was left in dire straits as a result of her 15-month fraud campaign but the 42 year old’spared no thought’ for colleagues at risk of losing their jobs as she booked weekends away on Expedia. accounts worker, Fortune blamed it on being cash-strapped after a divorce and said she owed bailiffs £ 20,000.
But a judge ruled Fortune, from Waterlooville, Hants,’went past that point’ and was being’greedy’ as he jailed her for 16 months in December last year after she admitted fraud by false representation. Portsmouth Crown Court, Hants, has now heard she has’no assets’ and so can afford to pay back just a’nominal fee’ of £ 1, despite embezzling nearly £ 65,000 from Architectural Louvre Products & Services (ALPS).
Speaking after the hearing Mark Platten, the managing director of the firm based in Havant, Hants, said his company had managed to survive despite the loss of money but he had resigned himself to never being paid back.
The 62-year-old said: “It wasn’t a trivial amount but we’ve got through to the other side of things now. Because of this and also the added pressure of Covid we had to let people go which was regret table, so it has affected us, but we’ve managed it. “
Mother of two teenage boys Fortune joined the family business as financial controller in 2018 and within a month was appointed company secretary. Prosecutor Matthew Lawson told the sentencing hearing in December: “As one of the most senior positions, she had overall responsibility for the accounts Despite the trust placed upon her, within a few weeks of joining she began embezzling money from the company. “
Fortune used company credit cards, falsified payments so money was sent to her four accounts, and duplicated invoices as part of her fraud. She stole a total of £ 64,553.34 between August 2018 and December 2019, with over £ 4,500 going on flights, shoes, meals and presents.
Newly hired financial assistant Abigail Mayor uncovered the fraud and reported it to Mr Platten. Mr Platten previously told the court it caused the business serious cash flow issues, caused negative relationships with suppliers, and left the company so short of cash it could not pay staff or provide bonuses.
Fortune’s offending crippled the company’s finances going into the Covid-19 pandemic and it had to lay four people off. Staff are still at risk of redundancy, Mr Platten said. “It’s caused a lot of stress trying to make sure the business could continue trading.” , it’s been very testing. “
Jason Halsey, defending, told the sentencing hearing Fortune was left short on money after a divorce and was’remorseful’. He said: “Problems piled up … It left her very short and she was looking after two children and she ended up renting.
“She said it was never her intention to keep the money and she would pay it back but she got too deep and the addiction became too much so she could not tell anyone. She admitted that she was out of control and greedy.”
Fortune was jailed for 16 months and Judge Timothy Mousley QC said: “Any source of money for you was vulnerable to your dishonesties and it doesn’t look like you held back from the amount you were looking to steal. You had a high degree of trust imposed on you and these were blatant breaches.
“You got away with it until a financial assistant discovered what was going on. Some of the money was spent on holidays and expensive purchases. It was a sophisticated fraud and had you not been discovered I’m quite sure you would have continued to defraud your employers.
“It seems to me as you went about stealing this money you never spared a thought for other employees whose jobs were put at risk.”