Crime Reduction

25.08.17

Council pledges preventive action after being defrauded of £1m

Dundee City Council has promised to take action to prevent large-scale fraud from happening again after one of its former employees was jailed for five years for stealing more than £1m from the authority.

Mark Conway, 52, a former IT officer, admitted to defrauding the council of £1,065,085 between August 2009 and May last year – a crime helped by his high-level access to electronic financial systems.

During the seven-year period, he created several false invoices which he paid into his own accounts to cover growing gambling debts as part of what a judge at Glasgow’s High Court considered a “serious breach of trust”.

“Following the discovery of this crime, Dundee City Council has taken action to prevent a fraud of this type from happening again in the future,” a spokesperson for the organisation said. “An independent review of procedures has already gone ahead and measures have been put in place to strengthen controls.

“Dundee City Council is involved in ongoing efforts to ensure that the funds taken from the authority by this individual are recovered.”

So far, the authority has only recovered around £7,000 of the defrauded cash. But Conway’s home, which has £49,000 equity, will be sold so that the money can be reinvested by the council. He has also signed over most of his pension, amounting to around £256,000.

He initially tried to pay off his gambling debts by legitimate means and even re-mortgaged his home twice, but his aim of paying back the money with gambling winnings never came to fruition. “He would occasionally win a few thousand pounds, but then gambled it away,” defence counsel Gavin Anderson admitted.

Instead, as the council’s top financial IT expert, the defendant found that he was able to exploit a loophole in computer systems to send money to himself whilst pretending it was going to genuine suppliers.

(Top image c. NicoElNino)

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