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Building society staff member jailed for fraud

CAUGHT OUT: Sandra Stewart

SANDRA STEWART, 51 of Croydon was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court yesterday, to two years' imprisonment.

She had pleaded guilty at Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court on 7 November to three counts of fraud by abuse of position.

A police investigation commenced on 28 October 2015 after three customers of Nationwide Building Society had alerted the organisation to discrepancies in their savings accounts. Having conducted their own investigation, the building society referred the matter to police.

A Nationwide employee, Sandra Stewart, admitted to police that she had stolen over £27,000 from customer accounts in the 1990s, when she was experiencing financial difficulties. She had worked since that time at branches in Walworth, Clapham and Brixton.

Subsequently, she had been transferring money between accounts in order to 'repay' the missing sums, moving the debits to a new account until that customer complained.

Stewart targeted elderly customers with savings accounts. When account holders complained, she would speak to these customers in her capacity as customer service manager, admitting a banking error and 'repaying' the missing sum with a further unauthorised transfer.

Detective Inspector John Randall of the Met's Operation Falcon said:

"This outcome should be a warning to those employed in positions of trust. If you carry out fraud, you will be investigated and are likely to face a prison sentence when convicted."

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