Thomas Cook worker’s £140k ‘jet-set’ swindle
A woman is facing jail after embezzling £140,000 from Thomas Cook to fund a jet-set lifestyle.
Alicia moran took US dollars, euros and sterling notes while working as a foreign exchange sales assistant.
She was initially accused of stealing more than £240,000.
The woman exploited a loophole that let her take as much money as she wanted, while the accounts showed no funds were missing.
The cash financed holidays in Florida, new York, Las Vegas, Spain, Disneyland Paris and Lapland.
when the scam was uncovered moran, of Greenock, Renfrewshire, tried to offer colleagues who were investigating her activities a handbag full of notes. But her scheme collapsed after they called police and she was arrested at Glasgow Airport when her plane landed after a trip to new York and Las Vegas.
Yesterday her defence solicitor Terry Gallanagh told Paisley Sheriff Court: ‘They say, “Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it”… she booked it and cooked the books.’
He added that she had capitalised on a favourable exchange rate she received as a perk for being a Thomas Cook employee.
mr Gallanagh said: ‘She started with close family and friends and the matter escalated to pretty much half of Greenock coming to miss moran and getting their holi- day money. The money was paid [to her] but she did not immediately return it, and kept it.’
The 33-year-old was working at Glasgow’s Braehead shopping centre branch of Thomas Cook
‘She cooked the books’
between February 2, 2015, and August 25 that year.
During that time she processed 140 currency transactions without charging a fee, overriding the computer systems so the tills balanced. She used the cash to go on five holidays and pay off her own debt and that of her partner and his mother.
moran pleaded guilty to embezzling £140,000 after the sum was reduced from £241,248.
Procurator fiscal depute Alan Parfery said that when $400 (£301) went missing from moran’s till, she claimed she had given the cash to a customer by mistake.
Her till was later 1,200 euros (£1,069) short and a colleague found £1,000 hidden in a safe with no paper trail.
mr Parfery added that another member of staff said moran had told her that, in the event of a till shortfall, the amount could be manually corrected on the computer to prevent a manager or supervisor becoming aware.
He added: ‘These issues caused a large-scale internal investigation and caused Thomas Cook to review security checks and store policy on a nationwide basis as, in effect, a loophole had been discovered whereby, electronically, deficits on the till could be masked.’
That probe showed moran had processed two payments of $10,000 (£7,528) to people she knew when they were not present, and she was interviewed by colleagues.
She then opened her handbag, revealing £6,000 in cash, and told them she could repay it all.
But the cash was seized and she was suspended then sacked after failing to attend a disciplinary hearing.
mr Parfery said: ‘She stated in her [police] interview that all the money had been spent.’
mr Gallanagh said his client, a mother of two, is also a full-time carer for her grandmother.
moran could be jailed for as long as five years when she returns to court next month.
Last night, a Thomas Cook spokesman said: ‘This was a significant breach of trust from one of our colleagues.
‘we will not hesitate to bring charges against employees where there is evidence of dishonesty.’
Moran: At court yesterday