A former employee of Lloyds Banking Group has been convicted of defrauding the bank of £2.4 million. 50 year old Jessica Harper, who was head of online security and fraud at the bank at the time, submitted a series of false invoices over a period of almost four years in a fraud totalling £2,463,751.
Ms Harper went on to spend the proceeds on a variety of lavish gifts for her friends and family – in addition to a series of improvements to her own home and a property in the south of France.
No longer employed by Lloyds, Harper was handed a 5 year custodial sentence for the crime, two and a half years of which judge Taylor of Southwark Crown Court ordered must be served. She has also cashed in her savings and pensions, and is selling her Croyden home, thought to be worth around £700,000 in total, to pay back some of the stolen funds. It is thought that following the sale of her family’s properties, the purchase of which were part-funded by the crime, around £1.7 million of the total will be recovered.
Harper, who earned between £60,000 and £70,000 per year during the course of the fraud, told police during the investigation: “I saw the opportunity and thought, maybe considering the hours I worked I probably deserved it. I know that’s stupid”.
The investigation into Ms Harper’s fraud and subsequent money laundering is reported to have begun following an anonymous tip-off.
John Frenkel of Frenkels Forensics, a practice specialising in the preparation of forensic accountancy reports in fraud investigations, commented: “When carrying out fraud invesigations, having watertight evidence is absolutely vital. The services of forensic accountants, who can discreetly analyse, locate and extract the evidence from accounting systems or an individual’s computer, can prove pivotal in being able to substantiate any accusations of fraud against a company or organisation by an employee.”
Sue Patten, head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Central Fraud Division, said: ‘Jessica Harper has today been convicted of the type of crime the bank employed her to combat.