Thomas Cook worker’s £140k ‘jet-set’ swin­dle

Scottish Daily Mail - - Life - By Rory Cas­sidy

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

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