Pagham woman to repay company she defrauded
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A West Sussex woman, already serving a three-year prison sentence for stealing from a business where she worked, has also been ordered to repay £67,000 in compensation following a police investigation.
At Hove Crown Court in August 2019 Lynn Boakes, 48, of Sea Lane Pagham, was sentenced to three years in prison following her guilty plea to three counts of fraud against her Birdham employers.
Her husband David, 55, was given a two-year conditional discharge after he pleaded guilty to fraud by representation. He had also pleaded not guilty to converting criminal property, which the court ordered to lie on file, not proceeded with.
However police did not let matters rest there. After detailed enquiries into her finances by a police financial investigator, Lynn Boakes was given a Confiscation Order under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) at the same court on 7 February, requiring her to repay her then available assets of £67,245.67 to the company. The investigation found that she had benefited from her fraudulent activity by £125,000.
She was given three months to pay with a further 14-month sentence if she fails to do so - and would still have to pay.
She had been hired as a bookkeeper at a steel company in Birdham in April 2013 and was responsible for the company’s payroll, but three years later she began to take regular sick days, despite posts on social media showing her shopping or being abroad on holiday.
The director of the company searched payroll documentation and discovered Boakes had been paying herself a higher wage than agreed, by £13,642 between October 2014 and April 2017.
Further investigation discovered Boakes had also used her inflated pay slips to purchase a car on finance. She had also diverted £103,450.26 worth of her employer’s funds into her personal bank account that had been disguised by using a fake company name.
Boakes was immediately suspended from the company, the director informed Sussex Police and her work computer was seized. On it was found a reference for a job application for her husband, falsely stating that he had also worked for the company for two years. It had been signed by a fake employee ‘Janet Young’ – Boakes’s actual middle and maiden names.
Hove Crown Court heard an application from the Crown on 12 May for a similar POCA confiscation order against David Boakes for compensation in the amount of £11,125.66, but the court decided not to grant the order as the amount represented solely wages from the work obtained following the false reference.
Detective Constable Paul Gilmour, who investigated the case said: “Payroll fraud is a common type of employee fraud. This case highlights the cunning and deceitful tactics fraudsters use to gain funds unlawfully. Importantly, the police will often utilise powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act to recover illicit proceeds wherever possible”.
Detective Inspector Mark O'Brien of the Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit said; "At present Lynn Boakes's identified available assets are less than the amount she was found to have gained. We often find in such cases that the assets currently available are initially less than the amount originally stolen but we keep records of all Confiscation Orders and have the means of regularly checking to identify any additional assets which have been obtained since the original Order was made.
"We can then apply to the court for an increase in the original Order. We can also seek the help of the South East Regional Asset Confiscation Enforcement (ACE) team, part of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) who carry out further work to identify more assets."