Long way back after $166,000 lost in fraud

MARYANNE TWENTYMAN
Last updated 05:00 01/01/2013
peter davison
REBUILDING: Whangamata builder Peter Davison is getting business back on track after he was defrauded of more than $200,000 by an office worker.

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A Whangamata builder is still waiting to recoup more than $100,000 after he was defrauded by an office worker who has since died from cancer.

Linda Allan was sentenced to seven and a half months' home detention and 140 hours' community work in the Hamilton District Court in June 2010 after she stole more than $166,000 from her employer, Peter Davison.

But Mrs Allan, who was 60 at the time of sentencing, died in April 2011, leaving Mr Davison more than $100,000 out of pocket. Mr Davison has since tried to recover the money owed from Mrs Allan's husband, Bill, as the couple had both admitted in court having extensive life insurance policies.

But he was recently advised through his lawyer that Mr Allan had moved to Gisborne since his wife's death, and had declared himself bankrupt.

"I believe she had a life insurance policy of around $200,000 and I still haven't seen any evidence of what happened to that insurance money," Mr Davison said.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Matt Torbit said fines and reparation did not cease to exist once the court heard that a person had died.

"The court has recently implemented a process where further attempts can now be made to resolve outstanding debts by contacting the administrator or executor of the deceased's estate," he said.

Having sold some personal assets, including property, Mr Davison has managed to fight his way out of the financial bind that almost forced him to walk away from the business he had built over many years.

"I have a good name in [Whangamata] and I was not going to let the people down that I owed money to," he said. "I've worked hard, and I'm almost rid of all my own debts after what happened."

But it's the trust factor that Mr Davison will struggle to overcome. Along with his wife, Sonia, Mr Davison juggles both building sites and office work.

"The process has been a long one," he said. Between September 2005 and August 2008 Mrs Allan fraudulently drew 56 cheques, totalling $151,168.80, from the company's bank account.

Her fraud also included $15,031.29 in unauthorised wages.

Including legal fees, Mr Davison was owed $235,000. The offending was uncovered when Mrs Allan took sick leave and Mr Davison brought in Price- waterhouseCoopers accountants to investigate the extent of her offending.

"By the time we took our case to the police she had admitted what she had done and then it was only about four months until we had our day in court," Mr Davison said.

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In Waikato, benefit deception continues to top the list of fraud-related crime with just over half of all recorded offences being resolved by police.

Information obtained by Waikato Times under the Official Information Act revealed that in 2012 there were 453 fraud offences reported to police by the end of October.

In 2011 there were 550 reported cases, with some involving multiple offences, while in 2010 534 cases were brought to the attention of Waikato police.

Senior Sergeant Tim Anderson, from the Waikato File Management Centre, was unable to provide details on how long it took to clear fraud cases through the investigation process due to the differing scale of offences. However, he confirmed the region had three dedicated fraud investigators.

"In addition we allocate fraud cases to a variety of staff for investigation according to the case priority and complexity of the complaint."

FACTBOX

Offence 2009 2010 2011 Recorded – Resolved Recorded – Resolved Recorded – Resolved Benefit fraud 621 – 324 472 – 214 602 – 372 Forgery/ Counterfeit 57 – 35 37 – 13 38 – 11 Business/Govt Deception 5 – 4 2 – 1 1 – 1 Other fraud/ deception 48 – 12 31 – 15 56 – 29

- Waikato Times

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