Fraudulent accountant jailed for two years

A Norwich accountant who stole more than £17,000 bookmarked to implement cloud accounting software in her firm was jailed for two years.

Sarah Coles, a former employee of Norwich-based company Ashfords Grounds Maintenance Ltd, pled guilty to fraud and taking a hire car without consent last week at Norwich Crown Court, reported the Norwich Advertiser.

The court heard how the 41-year-old, who started work at the company as a part-time accountant in 2011, promised the firm she would set up an online accounting system to “save time” but instead transferred the £17,561 into her personal bank account.

She reportedly used the money to pay the £1,750 rent on her luxury home and falsified documents to say she had £1m in...

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Comments
pembo's picture

"earmarked for a cloud accounting system" eh ?

pembo | | Permalink

wonder what the cloud would spend it on ??....so glad I'm retiring soon.

Oh for some internal controls and presumption of responsibility by directors...if it "nearly brought the company to its knees" surely alarm bells ringeth somewhere well before that point was reached...

Still disgraceful behaviour and she thoroughly deserved 2 years for taking a hire car without consent ...when you think HSBC got a ridiculous fine for money laundering £billions this sort of case restores faith in justice..

Accountant    2 thanks

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Was she an accountant or just a fraudster?

It is quite upsetting when the term is used to describe such persons.

Why not admin lady or bookkeeper.

Clearly the firm had no internal controls and left itself open to this sort of behaviour.

Rent arrears 24K as well. The landlord was a bit gullible too?

johnjenkins's picture

It always amazes

johnjenkins | | Permalink

me when I hear these stories (not just one or two). An Accountant will always think things through. Surely the simplest of minds must know that living the medium life needs a constant income not just a one off. So I'm with Black Knight, admin lady.

Mind you she could have got the judge that would have said she should only be fined, as the company had no controls, obviously they were to blame.

mike_thompson's picture

bought to their knees..

mike_thompson | | Permalink

... for £17k seems like the firm is in a lot of trouble.  Or were they just being vindictive making such a statemant against a clearly, vulnerable, self medicating, woman.  Yeah lock her up and throw away the key.

only a number

The Black Knight | | Permalink

mike_thompson wrote:

... for £17k seems like the firm is in a lot of trouble.  Or were they just being vindictive making such a statemant against a clearly, vulnerable, self medicating, woman.  Yeah lock her up and throw away the key.

that's only a number the true cost is the trail of destruction these type of people create when they try and cover it up.

I bet all sorts happened or didn't happen in the records to prolong the stealing.

£17k can quite easily balloon into a show stopper

She abused a position of trust, should have got longer in my opinion.

That is the modern attitude though

Perhaps Fat people should not have been offered cake and T.V. or allowed in Macdonalds and Thieves should not have been tempted by leaving your house unlocked. Perhaps someone should not have sold a vulnerable person alcohol as if that had any impact on a deliberate act.

 

Why not admin lady or bookkeeper?

MM Bookkeeping ... | | Permalink

Ref comments by The Black Night.

I resent your comment 'why not admin lady or bookkeeper' - I am a fully qualified bookkeeper so what makes you think you are in any way better than us bookkeepers just because you are an accountant?

I do agree this sort of behaviour from a so called accountant brings the whole profession into question and personally I think she should have been jailed for longer.

On the other side - did the company not have proper controls in place to avoid this? Well, I have worked for a number of companies who do not have controls in place for this sort of thing and when I have pointed out the ways in which someone could defraud them they have been horrified.

 

 

Landlord

Ian Bee | | Permalink

I saw something about this on the local news (I think it was the same case). The landlords were a married couple who had taken steps to recover the rent almost as soon as it was in arrears but were thwarted each time by the tenant, though the TV didn't say how. Eventually they racked up massive legal fees in dealing with it. Probably not recovered the rental arrears either. 

misunderstood

The Black Knight | | Permalink

MM Bookkeeping Services wrote:

Ref comments by The Black Night.

I resent your comment 'why not admin lady or bookkeeper' - I am a fully qualified bookkeeper so what makes you think you are in any way better than us bookkeepers just because you are an accountant?

I do agree this sort of behaviour from a so called accountant brings the whole profession into question and personally I think she should have been jailed for longer.

On the other side - did the company not have proper controls in place to avoid this? Well, I have worked for a number of companies who do not have controls in place for this sort of thing and when I have pointed out the ways in which someone could defraud them they have been horrified.

I think you have misunderstood my point.

johnjenkins's picture

I don't think

johnjenkins | | Permalink

the rent arrears have anything to do with it apart from the fact that it's more than what she got nicked for. I wonder how much of the ill gotten gains was spent on booze and will said brewery be held to account when it's compo time. (stupid thinking I know but you never know who will be held accountable in the future).

Rent arrears

Ian Bee | | Permalink

My comment was to Black Knight who suggested that the landlord had been gullible. Possibly so but the TV news implied otherwise.

pembo's picture

the Black Knight rises ?    1 thanks

pembo | | Permalink

Presumably her job title was "accountant". Point being she was a fraudster so call her what you will. Does reinforce the debate (again) for the qualified/unqualified issue as people like this seldom have the patience or wit to cope with professional exams. Anyone can call themselves an accountant. Not everyone can call themselves a solicitor or a doctor. Why are we not put on an equal footing that would preclude name calling and confusion in the public mind. Personally I've always liked "beancounter" that has a certain ring to it and would give us a real identity. Only those qualified with recognised bodies could use the name and just plain "beancounter" would get around the old chartered/certified yawn.

Agree with the idea of banning fat people from Macdonalds though. Alas was in there only the other day with the grandkids and frankly some of these people need to get a grip looking at the equally fat kids with them. Now there we are talking gross neglect of trust.

mike_thompson's picture

relevance

mike_thompson | | Permalink

I don't know why fat people are dragged into this, and i certainly don't think she is the victim here, but if all circumstances are to be considered she seems to be either very seriously ill/deluded in which case prison is not the place for her or she is a right villain and should be treated like the other charlatans (who hide behind corporate structures) and she should be fined/struck off.  The punishment seems out of proportion to her crime on society as a whole rather than to a (relatively) small group of people who should put better controls in to their businesses, trying to look at the bigger picture. 

 

 

Is a Bookkeeper more likely to a fraudster?

Spudsy | | Permalink

Or a 'lady admin' sounds like discrimination to me?

brought to their knees..

ver1tate | | Permalink

I feel the majority of posters are of a mindset similar to mine. She committed fraud, but surely the crime in this, and many similar cases, was committed by the employers who had no internal or external checks in place. 

Compre skills init

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Spudsy wrote:
Or a 'lady admin' sounds like discrimination to me?

Comprehension skills my dear fellow! Is that what it really says to you?

Giraffe    1 thanks

The Black Knight | | Permalink

ver1tate wrote:

I feel the majority of posters are of a mindset similar to mine. She committed fraud, but surely the crime in this, and many similar cases, was committed by the employers who had no internal or external checks in place. 

Are you having a giraffe?

It is not a crime not to have internal controls or leave your door open for that matter.

Fraud is however!

Most disturbing that accountants should view the thief as a victim, maybe you are all crooks?

it may be

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Ian Bee wrote:

I saw something about this on the local news (I think it was the same case). The landlords were a married couple who had taken steps to recover the rent almost as soon as it was in arrears but were thwarted each time by the tenant, though the TV didn't say how. Eventually they racked up massive legal fees in dealing with it. Probably not recovered the rental arrears either. 

It can be a pain but I suspect the landlords could have helped themselves by using a reputable lettings agency.

You have to be two months in arrears before the court will support a section 8 eviction. Otherwise you keep going round in circles

Tenancy (AST's) agreements are usually 6 months or have break clause after 6 months and if the correct notices had been issued then the court would have had to grant possession. (can still take several months though.)

The landlords or the agents could have credit checked her too. Taking up references from the bank? and if she did not pass those credit checks why didn't she pay up front?

 

ccassociates's picture

ML

ccassociates | | Permalink

As an "accountant" has she not also committed an offence under MLR,should she not have got 15 years.

Time we started a proper regime of punishment that dissuades offenders from commiting the crime. Evidently she had a modicum of intelligence at some stage in her sad sorry life

How about a firing squad !

Only applies to in practice?

The Black Knight | | Permalink

ccassociates wrote:

As an "accountant" has she not also committed an offence under MLR,should she not have got 15 years.

Time we started a proper regime of punishment that dissuades offenders from commiting the crime. Evidently she had a modicum of intelligence at some stage in her sad sorry life

How about a firing squad !

I think only employees of accountancy practices would be subject to that one.

Accountants in industry so to speak have no obligations under AML

 

 

unpaid rent

The Black Knight | | Permalink

the Unpaid rent is to my mind a fraud too? She had no intention or the means of paying it perhaps the landlords ought to press charges and get in on any confiscation proceeds if there are in fact some assets. Or at least she would be convicted of that crime too?

johnjenkins's picture

I suppose her    2 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

defence for not paying the rent would be ;- employers wouldn't let me nick anymore money so I couldn't pay so it wasn't intentional.

Bankster    1 thanks

hiccup | | Permalink

She should have called herself a banker, then the Bank of England would have bailed her out with loans at 0.5% and jail time would not even have been contemplated.

NQAs    1 thanks

I'msorryIhaven'... | | Permalink

The link to the report says she earned £12.50 an hour, so it seems unlikely she was a qualified accountant.

Isn't it about time the profession started to distance itself from people masquerading as accountants, say by distinguishing such people as NQAs? (in the same way as the teaching profession calls its classroom assistants NQTs - Non-Qualified Teachers).