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Payroll officer convicted of £1.3 million fraud

By Elizabeth Stromme Feb 22, 2015

A 55-year-old woman has been convicted by Kingston Crown Court for stealing more than £1 million from an oil and gas company while working as its payroll officer.

The court heard how Pauline Elfreda Barrett, of Haywain Close, Kent, edited emails from Saipem Limited’s accountants so it appeared that they were receiving demands for payment from HMRC.

The payments were approved but the beneficiary account details were in fact Barrett’s and between November 2010 and September 2014 there were at least 28 payments totalling £1.3 million made to Barrett’s personal bank account.

Detective Sergeant Mick Walker, of the new MPS Fraud and Cyber Crime Team, FALCON, said: “For four years, Barrett abused her position. Her theft was calculated.

“She first made demands for small sums of money as she wanted to test the water. As her confidence grew, so did her demands. The largest payment she fabricated was for around £80,000.”

Barrett was charged with 10 counts of fraud by false representation and one count of theft, which was merged into one count of fraud by abuse of position, to which she pleaded guilty on February 20.

Barrett has been remanded in custody, to appear for sentencing at Kingston Crown Court on February 27.

Anyone with information about fraud should call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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