Barclays staffer stole for payday loans
Julia Finney, 29, stole £127,000 to service the loans, which she had taken out to meet gambling debts. Over a three-year period, she made nearly 200 transactions, for amounts between £150 and £4,000. The thefts were discovered only when she made a basic error in addition, which was spotted and led to an investigation.
In her defence, according to the Birmingham Mail, Richard Dewsbery told Birmingham Crown Court that Finney had lost her job, home and long-term partner.
"This has taken a heavy psychological toll on Miss Finney. All of the money has gone, and most of it was gambled away in 2010 and 2011," he said. "She was gripped by an addiction."
Barclays denies that it was slow to discover the thefts, and is keen to point out - as was Finney's legal team - that the majority of the stolen money was taken internally, rather than from customer accounts.
"Customers should be reassured that if they fall victim to fraud on their account they are protected under the Banking Code and won't suffer financial loss as a result, unless of course they have been negligent with their PIN or password details," the bank says in a statement.
"We employ 58,000 people in the UK and staff fraud is rare. However, it is something that can happen in any organisation no matter how stringent the vetting procedures are. We are alive to the possibility, take steps to minimise the risk and detect it quickly if it happens."
The ruling adds fuel to arguments that payday lenders should be more tightly regulated. Birmingham City Council this week revealed that it was considering joining others including Sandwell and Plymouth in blocking access to payday loan websites from its networks, including libraries and community centres.