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A woman who managed a doctor’s surgery in the UK has been sent to jail for over three years after being found guilty of stealing almost £700,000 ($877,000) from the NHS. She used the money to fund her addiction to mobile gambling.
Karen Evans, 44, falsified patients’ records to steal the money. She diverted cash that was supposed to be for staff wages, medical supplies, and medication to two of her bank accounts. This took place over a period of 15 months.
The funds were gambled away through popular online gambling apps such as Betfred, Gala Bingo, and Sky Bet. In one session, she won £120,000 ($150,000) and a bottle of champagne. However, it took her only a few days to lose all of that money.
Five doctors worked in the surgery and four of them had to take leave or early retirement because of her fraud, according to testimony in the Minshull Street Crown Court.
Evans pled guilty to two charges of fraud by abuse of position and was sentenced to three years and four months in prison. The theft was discovered when the doctors needed an overdraft of £25,000 ($31,000) to pay the staff’s wages. This led the doctors in the Failsworth Group medical practice (close to Oldham) to investigate. It didn’t take long to discover where the funds had gone.
Evans began working at the practice in December 2016. She had a good track record, but she began stealing only a few weeks into the job. All in all, there were 327 transactions involving £582,265.65 ($729,869.99), while she was drawing a salary of £38,000 ($47,600). According to the prosecutor, Duncan Wilcock:
There were 323 patient records that had been falsified – nine were marked as end-of-life-care but they were not end-of-life-care patients. The doctor had to reassure them that they weren’t in an end-of-life situation.”
The bank accounts clearly showed the money flowing into online gambling accounts. When she won, most of the money would instantly be placed on another bet. She did use some of the funds to pay bills, go on UK holidays, and on hair and beauty. For the most part, the money went towards her gambling habit.
This was not the first time that Evans stole from her employers. Further investigations were conducted when these allegations came to light. It was discovered that she stole about £77,000 ($96,500) from a different doctor’s practice she worked in near Hattersley from 2012 until 2016.
According to the defendant’s barrister, Evans is “a woman who had had many difficulties in life, suffering from domestic violence and drug misuse.”
He went on to say that she is a good mother and that she has been working hard to turn her life around. However, she has an alcohol and codeine medication addiction, and she would turn to gambling to escape. The barrister put some of the blame at the feet of gambling companies, saying they might have identified her problem with gambling and put a stop to it.
In his closing statement, Judge Maurice Green observed that the defendant’s actions had caused much distress to patients who were not in end-of-life treatment. He also acknowledged her gambling addiction and her level of remorse. Green spoke about how easy it is to gamble and quickly ramp up losses, as in this case.