‘Trusted employee’ jailed after stealing £30k from rental firm
A“trusted employee” stole tens of thousands of pounds from the family-run property rental company where she worked, a court has heard.
Rhian Falvey, pictured, pocketed cash in the form of deposits and rent from tenants, then created false invoices and made money transfers from accounts to cover her tracks.
She carried on the scam for years – her thefts only coming to light when a landlord whose property the firm managed emailed a query while she was away on holiday.
Bosses began to check the records, and uncovered what their employee had been doing.
Swansea Crown Court heard Falvey joined the company Homehunters in 1992 as part of a youth training scheme.
Jim Davies, for the prosecution, said she became a trusted member of staff at the family-run Swansea business, and worked her way up through the ranks to become dayto-day manager of its operations.
The barrister said the owners of the firm came to regard her as a member of the family, with her husband even being asked to be an usher at the wedding of one of the directors.
However, the mother of two spent years stealing money that was coming into the company.
The prosecutor said Falvey would take cash deposits and rents running to many hundreds of pounds from tenants, and pay them into her own bank account – then she would create bogus invoices and credit notes on the firm’s electronic systems.
The court heard that in order to cover initial thefts Falvey had to transfer between accounts, on one occasion continuing to give a landlord rental payments from a property in Bonymaen even though the tenant had been sent to prison.
Properties affected were in the Bonymaen, St Thomas, Sketty and Morriston areas of Swansea, as well as one near Ammanford.
Mr Davies said the total amount of money involved in the scams was more than £30,000.
When initially arrested in 2015, Falvey denied doing anything wrong and sought to blame other employees at the firm.
Falvey, aged 47, of Nurses Corner, Penclawdd, Gower, had previously pleaded guilty to 19 charges of theft and false accounting when she appeared in the dock for sentencing.
The court heard she had no previous convictions.
An impact statement from the owners of Homehunters said they had regarded Falvey as one of the family and “never expected our trust to be betrayed in this way”.
They said her dishonesty had caused the family and their employees a great deal of stress, and damaged the good name of the firm.
The statement concluded by saying that if Falvey had “a shred of decency” she would tell them the full extent of what she had done so they could put matters right.
The court heard the cost of forensic investigators to examine the full details of what Falvey had done, together with the rebuilding of the company data she had corrupted, would run into many tens of thousands of pounds, something that was beyond the means of the firm.
Nicola Powell, for Falvey, conceded her client’s offending had been “mean and dishonest”.
She said the defendant had described her life as “a mess” following a family bereavement, financial problems, and her drinking getting out of control.
Giving the defendant a one-third credit for her guilty pleas, the judge sentenced her to 28 months in prison for each of the 19 offences, all the sentences to run concurrently. She will serve half the term in prison before being released on licence.
> Rhian Falvey has been jailed