Thieving Asda worker ordered to repay £680,000

Jennifer Ward and Alistair Gordon Lobban

An Asda accounts manager who stole used store vouchers and then cashed them in has been ordered to pay back £680,000.

Jennifer Ward, 51, from York, was jailed for two years in July. She's now been ordered to repay the cash and faces four years in prison if she fails to comply in the next six months - and she'll still owe the money.

Meanwhile, her partner, 54-year-old Alistair Gordon Lobban, was jailed for a year in June 2013 for money laundering. He's now been told he must repay £57,766.

Ward worked in the cash office at Asda and was responsible for reconciling accounts and destroying used vouchers. Instead, though, she stole them, along with cash, and falsified the accounts to disguise what she'd done.

She spread the proceeds amongst numerous bank and building society accounts, as well as buying shares, bonds, unit trusts and life and endowment policies.

But between 2004 and 2010, she and Lobban spent thousands of pounds on holidays and entertainment - "colossal" spending, say North Yorkshire Police.

The pair spent more than £320,000 on holidays and theatre tickets and around £30,000 on a timeshare cottage in the Scilly Isles. At the point they were arrested, they were just about to go on a £4,000 Caribbean cruise.

And when officers searched the couple's home they discovered more than £200,000 worth of Asda gift vouchers, £30,000 in cash and a hoard of electrical goods, ornaments, paintings and expensive toiletries - much still in unopened boxes.

"This was a long and complex investigation which has finally come to an end thanks to the hard work and determination of detective constable Sarah Bullock and financial investigator Paul Dowsland. Indeed their work was commended as outstanding by His Honour Judge Bayliss QC at the time of sentencing," says detective inspector Ian Wills of North Yorkshire Police's Financial Investigation Unit.

"The Proceeds of Crime Act has been used to deprive two dishonest people from their illegal income and has demonstrated North Yorkshire Police's determination to strip criminals of their ill-gotten gains."

The fraud was discovered after colleagues started getting suspicious about Ward's lavish lifestyle and installed a secret camera, which caught her stealing cash.

"Between 2004 and 2010, the pair's joint spending was colossal, indulging in a lavish lifestyle way beyond their means," say the police.

"Anyone who suspects someone of living beyond their means should not hesitate to report it to the police - we will take action."

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Thieving Asda worker ordered to repay £680,000
Shopping starts long before you leave the house. Check the fridge, freezer and cupboards, then draw up a list of all the meals you plan to make and eat during the week (making sure you include any leftover perishables in those meals). That'll tell you exactly what you need to buy. This isn't everyone's favourite activity, but you'll be astonished how much less you buy - and crucially how much less you end up throwing away. This process typically cuts 5% off your grocery bill.
Supermarkets are entirely designed to make you do this, with flashy displays at the door, and discounts heaped high on the end of each aisle (they're put here because they know it takes a while to turn your trolley so they have longer to catch your eye). There will be new products and special offers which will sorely tempt you, but everything extra you buy will mean you either eat more or have more to throw away more at the end of the week.
There are three levels of products: the branded ones (including the premium supermarket ranges), the own-brands, and the own-brand value range. The best way to shift down is to move down one rung of the ladder on everything you buy - so if you usually buy branded baked beans go for own-brand, and if you usually buy own-brand, go for the value own-brand.
Most people choose a supermarket out of either convenience or habit. However, switching to a cheaper supermarket could be the easiest way to save. No one supermarket is cheaper for everything across the board. However, as a very rough rule of thumb Asda is the cheapest of the big players - it regularly wins awards for this (and did so last year), and it also has a pledge, which promises that the items you pick that are part of its scheme will be 10% cheaper than elsewhere or you can claim the difference. If you are willing to go beyond the big players, the discounters are substantially cheaper, so it's worth trying Aldi or Lidl to see what you could save.
Of course, no supermarket is cheaper for absolutely everything. And in some instances the supermarket is not the cheapest place for your food - local markets for example can offer much cheaper fruit and vegetables.

You'll need to get to know your local independents, but the best way of being sure of getting a good deal at the supermarkets is to do your research before you go. lets you compare prices for Tesco, Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Aldi and Ocado.

You'll need to put your shopping list into the site, which is a bit time-consuming the first time you do it but gets quicker once you have saved your favourites. It will tell you the cheapest places for your shopping - leaving you to choose whether to make more than one trip or to go with the supermarket that is cheapest for the most of your items.
There's definitely a right and wrong way to do this. The right way is to search for vouchers, coupons and deals for things you already need to buy. Alternatively, you can keep an eye out for BOGOF deals on things you regularly use (as long as they aren't perishable), and stock up on them. This can be useful for things like toiletries - just don't be tempted to switch to a more expensive brand in order to do this unless you have checked that the deal constitutes a saving from your usual brand at its usual price.
Supermarket deals are not simple to compare, so you could easily find yourself trying to work out if 350ml of something at 58p is cheaper or more expensive than 250ml of something at 46p. For most people this isn't the kind of maths that's easy to do on the fly. The only solution is to take a calculator and work it out - unless you want to focus on building world-class mental arithmetic skills.
Your careful list-making will not always go to plan, so if you end up eating something different one night, think about what you will do with the food you had planned to eat. Can you cook it and freeze it? Can you substitute it for another meal? Likewise with the leftovers, have you factored these into your eating plan? Or will you need to freeze it for next week?
This is classic advice for a reason. Research has shown that if we eat before we go we buy 18% less food. So have a sandwich and shave almost 20% off your bill.
If you are good at managing your credit cards, then shopping using a cashback card can be a great way to earn back money on your shopping. It's worth emphasising that in order for this to be a money-spinner you'll need to pay it off in full and on time every month. However, this is something that disciplined shoppers should definitely consider.

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