Former bank security manager jailed for five years after £2.5m fraud
The head of a bank's anti-fraud security team has been jailed for five years after admitting to a £2.5m fraud.
Jessica Harper, 50, falsified invoices from a company run by a close friend to Lloyds bank, her employers, for four years, directing the money into her own account.
Harper, of Crest Road, Croydon, was arrested in December last year after her four year fraudulent scheme was unearthed by an internal investigation by Lloyds.
Appearing at Southwark Crown Court this morning, Harper, who has a history of working with charitable groups such as Croydon Voluntary Action, and the borough's rotary clubs, was jailed for five years for fraud by abuse of position and money laundering.
The court heard how she used her friendship with the managing director of a software company ISB to carry out the fraud.
In total she submitted 93 false invoices.
First she falsified a email from ISB to Lloyds about setting up a new account for invoice payments, then creating false invoices charged to the bank.
When an ISB employee questioned letters from Lloyds about the bogus invoices, Harper used her position at Lloyds, and her friendship with the unwitting director of ISB to have the matter dropped.
Prosecuting Antony Swift said: "This was intentional and cynical utilising her friendship as a means of deflecting further enquiries."
He added, when interviewed about why she stole the money, she said she was in effect working two jobs, putting in 60 hour weeks, and she was entitled to more money.
Reading her statement he said: "I just saw the opportunity and maybe considering the hours and everything else I deserve it. I know that is stupid, but that is what I felt."
Defending Carol Hawley told the court Harper actually gave the funds to her three brothers to help them buy homes and to friends to help their businesses.
She added the actions were out of character for someone who has worked extensively in the community.
She said: "Miss Harper is a person of exemplary character."
The court heard that since the arrest, where Harper admitted to the crimes in full, she has sold her Croydon home, car, shares and cashed in her pension and had repaid more than £700,000.
The sale of her brother's property is hoped to recoup a further £1m.
On sentencing Judge Taylor said: "You were a senior manager in this bank and in a position of trust at a time when Lloyds was supported by public money, tax payers money.
"This was a high value fraud carried out and planned over a long period of time. You used other peoples identity and had no regard for the potential damage to their reputation or that of ISB."