Gambling Addict Submits Hundreds of Fake Invoices in £77,000 VAT Fraud

  • Pauline Leeming began stealing funds from her employer when her gambling debts grew too big
  • She was sentenced to 20 months in prison after pleading guilty to a VAT fraud offense
  • The case saw 300 fraudulent invoices submitted via the company over a period of 16 months
  • Leeming has since undergone counseling to help deal with her gambling addiction
auditor examining invoice with magnifying glass at desk
UK gambling addict Pauline Leeming submitted almost 300 fake invoices to help fund her gambling addiction, with the fraud totaling £77,000. [Image:]

Woman sets up fraudulent scheme at her workplace

A gambling addict in England has been jailed after submitting hundreds of different fake invoices worth a total of £77,000 ($100,540). Most of the funds were used to feed a gambling addiction that had “spiraled out of control.”

Pauline Leeming was found to have been altering the accounts at a family business in Leeds. An investigation by the company accountants eventually led them to uncover the discrepancies. 

a gambling addiction that had “spiraled out of control”

The 40-year-old initially got personal bank loans to continue financing her gambling habit and pay back previous gambling debts. But when the debt sum quickly got out of hand, she began submitting fake invoices at her workplace. 

Jail sentence for the offender

As a result of the fraud, the mother-of-three got a 20-month prison sentence from Judge Jonathan Rose. 

The judge admitted it was the gambling addiction that led Leeming to commit fraud, noting that she had never had any trouble with the law in the past. However, her offense was still considered a gross breach of trust and needed to be punished. 

Judge Rose added that Leeming’s fraudulent practice would have been maintained and gotten worse if she had not been caught. He told the defendant:

You have lost a great deal from your offending and I’m afraid you must now lose your liberty.”

Insights into Leeming’s fraud

Leeming had been working as a director of Paul Smith Plasterers, a firm based in Leeds. Over a 16-month period spanning February 2016 to June 2017, she submitted almost 300 fraudulent invoices via her workplace.

Leeming would tweak existing purchase invoices to issue fake ones. This resulted in a VAT liability bill worth £77,000 ($100,540) for the company.

The woman’s husband was also working for the company as a director at the time of the ongoing fraud. It was he who figured out in July 2017 what his wife had been up to in an attempt to fund her gambling addiction.

The aftermath of the case

Pauline Leeming pleaded guilty for the VAT fraud offense during the case being heard at the Bradford Crown Court. However, there was no decision made on whether the fraud constituted theft from the company. 

Since the discovery of her wrongdoing, Leeming has been undergoing counseling to help her overcome her gambling addiction. She has had numerous relapses involving sums of between £10 ($13.06) and £20 ($26.12). Her family now monitors her online bank accounts to ensure she is not gambling online. 

Leeming has also self-excluded from online gambling platforms. She has since resigned from her position at the company. According to her legal team, she is remorseful about the damage she has caused. 

Judge Rose said Pauline Leeming should have asked her family or an agency for help when she was struggling with addiction issues. Her marriage has since broken up.

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