A woman imprisoned for stealing nearly £44,000 from the charity that employed her has been ordered to pay back most of the money.
Margaret Pike stole £43,893.83 from the Fremantle Trust by creating a fake employee and paying it a salary for three years.
The 57 year old, from Howard Avenue, Aylesbury was ordered to pay back £31,257.44, the sum total of all her assets, at a confiscation hearing at Aylesbury Crown Court on Friday.
In September Pike pleaded guilty to stealing the money and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. If she fails to pay back the money within 28 days Pike will serve a further 14 months imprisonment and still have to pay the money back.
Christopher Yoxall, of Thames Valley Police’s economic crime unit, said: “The company was placed in jeopardy due to the relentless series of thefts by the defendant. She endangered the livelihoods of people, and only stopped when confronted by her crimes.”
Pike was employed as the Trust’s payroll manager and was one of only five people allowed access to the payroll, with authority to make and alter entries.
Unusual payments being made to a particular employee were highlighted during a standard supervision, which spotted a strange entry on the payroll system.
Following an investigation, it became apparent the employee did not exist but had been on the system for around three years.
An internal investigation then began and, realising her scheme had been uncovered, Pike tried to cover her tracks by deleting all details of the employee, including those on a backup file, within a day or so.
However, an audit trail on the IT systems showed she was the person who had deleted the records.
Unauthorised money transfers between April 2008 and January 2012 totalled £43,893.83 and the matter was reported to police. At the same time, it was realised Pike was trying to sell her home, her only sizeable asset, so this was swiftly stopped by members of the economic crime unit.
The audit trail showed the payments were being channelled to Pike’s account and she was subsequently charged.
Mr Yoxall said: “This example of swift action shows support for victims and ensures that offenders do not profit from offending.”
The Fremantle Trust provides nurses and care staff to residential homes and hospitals across the Aylesbury region and employs around 2,000 staff.