Gambling fraud: Tracey Curran admits £590k scam

Bishop Street Courthouse
Image caption As a result of the financial loss, three shareholders re-mortgaged their homes to prevent it collapsing

A Londonderry company nearly collapsed after a former office manager, using office credit cards, spent £590,000 on online gambling, a court has heard.

Tracey Curran, 44, from Moyola Drive, pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud in October.

On one occasion, she gambled and lost £399,000 in winnings in just two days.

As a result of the financial loss, three shareholders in S3 Alliance remortgaged their homes to prevent it collapsing.

Judge Phillip Babington said it was "a very serious case" and released Ms Curran on bail until January 10.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The former manager spent nearly £600,000 on the online gambling site 32 Red

The money was taken from S3 Alliance, in Skeoge Industrial Estate, over a 16-month period starting in January 2016, to fund Tracey Curran's addiction to online gambling.

Ms Curran was in charge of the company's administration and had access to its credit card accounts.

A barrister for the Public Prosecution Service told Londonderry Crown Court that Curran had been an employee since the company was founded in 2008.

The former manager spent nearly £600,000 on the online gambling site 32 Red.

The prosecutor said the offending was discovered when she was asked by her employers to prepare financial reports.

'Sorry I hurt you all'

On April 24, 2017, Ms Curran left work early and emailed her employers asking to meet them.

Two of the shareholders went to her home where, in the presence of her parents, she said she had taken between £300,000 and £400,000 from their accounts.

She transferred the money into her PayPal account which she used to gamble.

After she resigned, Ms Curran wrote to the three shareholders saying: "I am so sorry I hurt you all, your trust and our friendship".

Image copyright LeoPatrizi
Image caption The offending was discovered when Ms Curran was asked by her employers to prepare financial reports

The barrister said following negotiations between 32 Red and S3 Alliance, which involved pressure being applied, the gambling company reimbursed the victims to the tune of £589,500.

He said the offending had financial, reputational and personal consequences for the three shareholders, all of whom had to remortgage their homes to keep the company afloat.

Thankfully the company survived and the shareholders have come through their ordeal reasonably well, he said.

'Unique and Exceptional'

Defence barrister Kieran Mallon QC, said he accepted the near financial collapse and the reputational damage Curran had caused.

The barrister said that Curran, who has been diagnosed as a pathological gambler, contacted 32 Red raising her gambling concerns with them but they responded by giving her a loyalty card and giving her enhanced membership status.

He said 32 Red's decision "to make good her criminality in January 2018 by reimbursing her former employers was unique and exceptional" and as a result the financial loss to the company was now about £4,000.

The defence barrister said after she resigned from S3 Alliance in April 2017, Curran was employed by another local company eight months later as an administrative assistant.

"Her current employer is fully aware of her offences but says while not all people are capable of reform, she continues to show she is a reformed person", Mr Mallon added.

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