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Principality manager jailed for stealing money

A manager at Principality Building Society has been jailed for forging a letter from a dead customer in order to redistribute money into her own account, reports Wales Online.

Claire Free was found to have taken £9,170 from a now-deceased client, the father of whom notified the building society via a complaint.

An investigation revealed that money had been moved via bank transactions and cheques on nearly 150 occasions over a 10-year period, totaling £187,170.63.

Prosecutor Alison O’Shea said: “Free was suspended from work and a letter was recovered from the deceased authorising the closure of his account. That letter clearly had been forged.”

O’Shea continued by saying that the money had been spent on living expenses and “not on an extravagant or high lifestyle”.

Recorder of Cardiff Judge Eleri Rees QC commented: “It is astonishing to find you in the dock after living most of your life caring for your family and working for 23 years at a building society.

“But the reality is that over the last 10 years you stole money from Principality Building Society.

“You were in a position of high trust described as a senior role.”

Free admitted to theft by employee and was jailed for 30 months.

Principality Building Society chief customer officer Julie-Ann Haines says: “Principality takes a zero tolerance approach to any form of internal fraud or indeed any form of criminal activity and fortunately this is an extremely rare occurrence in our organisation.

“We work hard to maintain the highest levels of security, carefully monitoring our business behind the scenes to protect our members and the integrity of our business.

“All instances of internal theft or any form of criminal misconduct are taken extremely seriously and will be reported to the police. Principality colleagues are trusted with a duty of care to act with integrity and safeguard the interests of our members. This matter has been dealt with in an appropriate manner and to the full extent of the law.”

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