Trainee bank clerk had spending spree on stolen cash
A BANK clerk forged signatures of elderly customers to fund a spending spree of nearly £6,000 for nights out, DVDs and a holiday.
The Santander bank trainee at the Victoria Street, Grimsby, branch, took a total of £5,800 from customers – one aged 91 and others in their 70s and 80s.
Ashley Dixon, 21, admitted fraud by breaching trust placed in him by his employers.
Sentencing Dixon at Grimsby Crown Court, to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, Judge John Dowse told him: "As you leave this court, think of those elderly people. Think of the distress you have caused them."
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During the hearing the judge said elderly people are "greatly upset and fearful" by fraudulent behaviour.
He said the elderly customers had been targeted, and as the amounts clocked up Dixon decided to "go for it" with bigger amounts.
"You sought to rely on elderly people's confusion," Judge Dowse told him.
"The money has been repaid, but some will have lasting repercussions."
He also ordered Dixon to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and undergo 18 months of supervision from the probation service.
Dixon, of Sutton Road, Trusthorpe, was ordered to pay compensation of £150 to Santander and court costs of £50.
Craig Lowe, prosecuting, said Dixon had been taken on as a trainee customer service adviser in the Victoria Street branch in January 2011.
He had received access to the bank's database and a password so he could see customer accounts.
Between February 18 and March 3 last year he forged signatures and fraudulently took money from accounts.
A total of 11 frauds were committed including:
Kenneth Steel, 89, withdrew £200 from his account in a transaction.When the customer left the branch, Dixon took a further £200 using a forged withdrawal slip.
Peggy Greenbeck, 91, transferred £400 between her bank accounts and Dixon withdrew £500, leaving her with a deficit of £100.
On February 23, Irene Stanton, 62, withdrew £100 and the customer adviser forged her signature to withdraw £500.
The same day, Audrey Addis, 85, had £500 taken from her account.
He took £1,000 from Anne Goddard's account.
Other customers in their 70s had money taken from their accounts.
Customers began querying the withdrawals on March 4.
Dixon was later suspended and failed to attend disciplinary hearings at the bank and was dismissed in his absence.
He was later arrested and told police he had debts and complained of earning less than £12,000 a year at the bank.
In interview he said: "I know it seems callous as they are elderly. They usually have more in their accounts. It was not personal. It was about numbers and if their account was healthy."
Mr Lowe said the money was used for nights out, DVDs and towards a holiday.
For Dixon, Saleem Khan said the customers had recouped their money.
He said: "It is not going to have such a big effect on a big institution."
He said his client, who suffered from a gambling addiction, was remorseful.
A Santander spokeswoman said: "Santander takes fraud by employees and customers very seriously, and we have co-operated fully with the authorities. No customers have lost out financially."