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Home detention for 'extravagant' spree

ROB KIDD
Last updated 15:30 01/07/2014

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A woman who went on an "extravagant" $25,000 US shopping spree with stolen money has failed in her bid to avoid conviction.

Dina Kais Jan, 30, was sentenced to five months home detention at Auckland District Court this afternoon after previously pleading guilty to four charges of dishonestly accessing a computer system.

The former Flight Centre employee used her position at head office to swindle more than $117,000 of the company's cash.

To do so, she accessed the computer system 104 times in a six-month period.

The elaborate scam essentially involved her setting up a MasterCard cash passport in the name of her boyfriend - originally used as a legitimate travel fund - and diverting the firm's money on to it.

There were also other fictitious accounts established by Jan on behalf of people who did not exist.

She would funnel funds into the accounts and then text her partner who would immediately remove the money at an ATM.

The offending started in July last year and by October the couple had enough money to go on a luxury getaway to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

"During this holiday, the defendants went on an extravagant shopping spree spending in excess of $25,000 on clothes, jewellery and other personal items," said Judge Philippa Cunningham.

"It was not money that was needed. It was used to fund a lavish lifestyle."

Jan's lawyer Rob Samuel told the court the offending came about because of "severe problems with her emotional stability".

He cited issued with methamphetamine and alcohol abuse, as well as work pressures and a miscarriage in July 2013 that contributed to her depression and sleeplessness and the resulting offending.

If convicted, Dannemora resident Jan would "never work again", Samuel said.

But Judge Cunningham disagreed with that assessment and entered a conviction.

Prospective employers should be aware of a history of dishonesty offending, she said.

Samuel emphasised his client's remorse but the judge was sceptical.

"The reality is this happened 104 times . . . you know the first time you do it it's wrong," she said.

Through their victim impact statement Jan's bosses at Flight Centre said the offending had jeopardised trust between departments and they had spent a huge amount of time uncovering the extent of the fraud.

The offender brought to court a cheque for the full six-figure reparation amount, which she had borrowed from her parents.

Samuel said she was now focused on getting a job so she could pay them back.

Because she had repaid the sum, it was likely the charges against her partner 31-year-old Peni Tauake Tulimaiau would be dropped, the lawyer said.

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