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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bank worker in Edinburgh raided customers' accounts to pay off £90,000 debt

A CUSTOMER service manager with Lloyds TSB raided the accounts of elderly customers and a neighbour when she was faced with debts of £90,000, a court heard. At Edinburgh Sheriff Court today Arlene Wales, 42, admitted embezzling £36,333.86 between 9 November 2004, and 30 May 2007, from branches in Dalkeith High Street and at the Cameron Toll Centre in Edinburgh.
Wales, of Brixwold Drive, Bonnyrigg, ADVERTISEMENTjoined the bank in 1992 and was appointed to her managerial post in Dalkeith in 2001.
Fiscal Depute, Pauline Shade, told Sheriff James Scott that the embezzlement came to light after a Mrs Drummond noticed £650 had been withdrawn from her father's account.
Wales had been transferred to Cameron Toll. The manager at Dalkeith could not explain what had happened and a full investigation began.
It revealed a number of irregularities and Wales was called in to a meeting on 31 May 2007.
The bank discovered that Wales had been taking money from accounts from November 2004 right up to the day before she was called to the meeting.
She resigned from the bank on 1 June 2007.
It was discovered that the £650 she had returned to Mrs Drummond had come from a fictitious account in the name of an elderly customer, David Hay, who had no knowledge of it. When the bank's investigators spoke to Mr Hay he told them that Wales had been "very helpful", sorting out his finances, settling bills and even bringing money to his home to save him having to go to the bank.
Wales took £12,589.86 from Mr Hay. Mr Hay has since died, but his estate has been re-imbursed by Lloyds.
Ms Shade explained that Wales had changed the addresses on Mr Hay's bank statements so that he did not discover the true nature of his finances.
The same scheme was used to take £4154 from the account of Mr David Johnstone, a friend and neighbour. When he queried the missing statements, she sent him a text message telling him not to worry, that there had been a mistake.
A married couple, George and June Brown, were also targeted by Wales.
The Fiscal said they were elderly, physically disabled with learning difficulties. She took £18,940 from their Disability Living Allowance account.
In July last year, Wales told the police she had been in considerable financial difficulties with debts of £90,000 from credit card debt, loans and overdraughts. Asked what had happened to the money, she said she had spent it to maintain the lifestyle she was enjoying and to paying off debts. She added that she was embarrassed about the state of her financnes and had not discussed it with her colleagues.
The Fiscal said that all Wales' victims had been repaid by the bank.
Sheriff Scott deferred sentence until 28 April for background reports and allowed Wales bail.

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