Grandmother Stole AU$4m From Family Business to Fund Gambling Addiction

  • The 68-year-old bookkeeper will spend at least three years in prison
  • She only admitted to the theft after being confronted by a director
  • The company almost collapsed due to the resulting financial issues
Woman holding briefcase of cash behind her back
A grandmother stole AU$4m (US$2.6m) while working as a bookkeeper for a family business and spent a large portion of it on slot machines and cruises. [Image:]

Major fraud

A grandmother in Australia will spend at least three years in prison after stealing AU$4m (US$2.6m) from a family business, using the money to fund her gambling addiction and to go on cruises.

Meree Wilson pleaded guilty to the charges of theft and was sentenced by the County Court of Victoria. The 68-year-old worked as the bookkeeper for Stosius Constructions for 14 years and transferred money to her personal bank account between 2014 and 2021.

at least AU$50,000 (US$32,780) of the gambling losses occurring on cruises

Most of the money went toward funding a luxury lifestyle, with at least AU$50,000 (US$32,780) of the gambling losses occurring on cruises. At the height of her addiction, she was betting at least AU$500 (US$328) each day on slot machines. Some of the money also went to charity and her children.

Eventually caught

She was only apprehended in November 2021 after people within the family business finally noticed the suspicious transactions. After a company director and his son confronted Wilson about the theft, she admitted to everything and said that she was glad she was finally caught.

Wilson said that she enjoyed the experience

When explaining to police her thoughts during the spree, Wilson said that she enjoyed the experience and “didn’t give it conscious thought.” She claimed to have come close on numerous occasions to coming clean to the company’s directors.

Terrible situation for the business

The owners of the business thought that the poor financial performance of the company was because of mismanagement and not due to any sort of fraud. The company almost folded as a result of the transgressions and some of the family members no longer speak with one another.

Judge Gabriele Cannon said that Wilson managed to get away with the theft for so long as she “gravel breached” her position of trust within the company.

The court explained that Wilson has not tried to pay back any of the money she stole from the company, with her sole gesture being to decline her AU$15,000 (US$9,834) severance payment.

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