Whitby woman’s $370,000 theft

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

A West­pac bank man­ager fleeced her el­derly clients out of more than $373,000 and used some of the money to pay for her new kitchen.

He­len Marie Kemp, of Whitby, de­ceived six cus­tomers over four years while work­ing at branches in the north­ern Welling­ton sub­urbs of Tawa and John­sonville.

Be­tween 2009 and 2013, she forged sig­na­tures to cre­ate phony loans, credit cards, over­drafts and bank state­ments in their names.

In July 2011, she used about $42,000 of her ill-got­ten gains to buy new ap­pli­ances and gran­ite coun­ter­tops for the kitchen in her home. She was caught out only af­ter she went on an­nual leave and an­other staff mem­ber dis­cov­ered ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties with the ac­counts she was man­ag­ing.

Kemp pleaded guilty in the Welling­ton District Court last Thurs­day to nine charges of il­le­gally ac­cess­ing a com­puter, forgery, ob­tain­ing by de­cep­tion and us­ing a doc­u­ment.

Crown pros­e­cu­tor Sally Carter said the six vic­tims were older and vul­ner­a­ble, the youngest be­ing 59 and the old­est be­ing in their 80s.

Kemp be­gan tak­ing their money in Oc­to­ber 2009 while she was a man­ager at West­pac’s Tawa branch. She ma­nip­u­lated the bank’s com­puter and forged the sig­na­tures of one cou­ple so she could take out a $60,000 loan on their property, reg­is­ter­ing their mort­gage as se­cu­rity.

She took $20,000 for her­self and used the rest of the money to re­pay the loan.

By 2010, she was a man­ager at West­pac’s John­sonville branch and had ex­tended the loan sev­eral times to $135,000. She also took out a credit card on their ac­count.

She also preyed on a cou­ple who opened their first ac­count with West­pac in 1967. They had amassed nearly $200,000 in term de­posits and ac­counts, of which Kemp swiped more than half over a pe­riod of two years.

The fraud was dis­cov­ered when one of the cou­ple con­tacted the bank be­cause they had not been of­fered any rein­vest­ment ad­vice about one of their term de­posits.

Kemp opened a $3000 over­draft on a closed ac­count of an­other of her vic­tims, then with­drew money from it. She dipped into the bank ac­count of her fi­nal vic­tim 132 times, tak­ing more than $39,000.

The vic­tim had praised Kemp for help­ing her do her bank­ing over the phone, but it turned out she was be­ing given false state­ments, Carter said.

The fraud was re­vealed when the vic­tim called West­pac while Kemp was on an­nual leave, to ask about break­ing a $20,000 term de­posit. When an­other staff mem­ber ac­cessed the com­puter, they dis­cov­ered the money was no longer there.

West­pac re­im­bursed ev­ery­one af­fected and is seek­ing more than $ 373,000 in repa­ra­tion from Kemp.

Judge Bruce David­son re­manded Kemp on bail un­til Au­gust for sen­tenc­ing.

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