‘Trusted em­ployee’ jailed after steal­ing £30k from rental firm

Western Mail - - NEWS - JASON EVANS Re­porter jason.evans@waleson­line.co.uk

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

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