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Bakery manager embezzled £95,000 to fund gambling addiction

Nicola Thomson spent the money at Jackpotjoy.
Nicola Thomson spent the money at Jackpotjoy.

A trusted bakery manager embezzled £95,000 in five months to fund her online gambling addiction.

Nicola Smith, or Thomson, began working at Kindness Bakers on Main Street, New Deer, in 2007, and worked her way up to store manager where she was trusted with the day-to-day book-keeping.

But in 2017 she began taking advantage of her position and used the bakery’s PayPoint terminal, which lets customers purchase vouchers for phone and utility top-ups,  to obtain pre-paid vouchers without running them through the till.

Over the course of five months, the 46-year-old embezzled £95,000 of pre-paid vouchers, which she redeemed on gambling website Jackpotjoy.

Fiscal depute Christy Ward told Aberdeen Sheriff Court: “From September 2017, various members of staff noticed that the accused was using the PayPoint terminal when no customers were in the shop.

“They saw that she used the terminal several times throughout every shift, printing out the receipts and vouchers but without placing copies in the till as per company protocol.

“It was also noted that the accused would attend at the shop when she was not working and use the PayPoint terminal.”

Accountant spotted discrepancies

One member of staff checked the history on the terminal and discovered a number of daily transactions of £50 to £200 to PaysafeCard UK, a pre-paid payment method that can be used online to make payments without entering personal details.

The member of staff reported the concerns to management who checked the accounting system but found no discrepancies.

On October 15 2017, the shop closed, with most staff relocating to other branches.

Thomson was asked to continue on to help with the winding up of the shop, while an accountancy firm was instructed to review the accounts.

On January 16 2018 the accountant contacted the company director to advise of possible discrepancies in the PayPoint figures.

The following week the accountant attended and obtained a printout of the terminal record between January 2 2017 and January 31 2018.

Thomson deposited £95k and withdrew £32k

Ms Ward said: “This showed that there were transactions totalling £95,000 to PaysafeCard UK from the terminal, and further checks showed that the transactions had not been declared through the till system.”

More than £27,600 had been processed through the terminal between October 15 2017 and January 23 2018, when the shop had been closed for business.

When confronted by the director, Thomson “apologised and said she had become addicted to online gambling”.

The matter was reported to police.

Subsequent investigations revealed Thomson had been redeeming the vouchers on gambling website Jackpotjoy. During the period of the offence, she deposited £95,000 and withdrew £32,000.

Thomson, of Burnside Road, Mintlaw, pled guilty to embezzling £95,000.

Defence agent Marianne Milligan asked for sentence to be deferred for reports, and said her client suffered from stress and anxiety and had trouble sleeping.

Sheriff Graham Buchanan deferred sentence until August.

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