'Doubly deviant' female fraudsters

20:59, Oct 24 2011

Female fraudsters are on the increase as the workplace gender gap closes.

And while men still steal vastly larger amounts, women are seen as "doubly deviant" because they've broken "social expectations of what it means to be female", Victoria University criminologist Jan Jordan says.

In the past 18 months the Waikato Times has reported on several women who breached their employer's trust and together have stolen millions from the Waikato-based employers.

Just last week administration manager Lea Margaret Temm, 55, pleaded guilty to stealing more than $160,000 from the Waipa Racing Club, where she had worked for more than 10 years.

This month Hamilton financial adviser Robyn Claire Bugg, 50, was jailed for two years and four months for stealing more than $90,000 from her employer, Watson Davies Transport.

But experts say most fraud cases never make it to the courtroom.

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Craig Gubbins, from pre-employment vetting company Personal Verification Limited, said a lot of companies don't want the embarrassment and choose to wear the cost.

"One of our clients lost $100,000, they didn't take it to police and the person responsible borrowed it off family and friends and paid it back. Then they asked if they could have their job back."

However, cases that do make it to court are on the rise. In 1980, 39 per cent of convicted fraudsters were women. By 2008, Statistics New Zealand figures revealed, 51 per cent of all convicted fraudsters were women.

Criminologists surmise that women's increased access to the workplace and positions of trust means the numbers have evened up.

Mr Gubbins said most cases weren't driven by need. "When people appear in front of the courts and you look at what they spent the money on – overseas holidays and spa treatments and remodelling the house – it's luxuries."

Chris Budge, a senior manager of forensic for global accounting giant KPMG in New Zealand, agreed. In KPMG's latest look at frauds over $100,000 in New Zealand for the six months to June men accounted for 62 per cent of cases and 94 per cent of total value of loss.

All of the big frauds against the vulnerable and charities involved men, with most accounting frauds against commercial businesses done by women working in lower level positions.

Mr Budge said New Zealanders were too trusting.

"You have to prove you are unworthy rather than have to prove you are worthy. Which I think as a society is actually quite good. But we need to remember that there are people out there that don't live by those same rules ...

"My standard rule of thumb is in God you trust, everybody else you check out."

ROLL OF SHAME

Waikato's female fraudsters

October 2011 – Lea Margaret Temm, 55, stole more than $160,000 from the Waipa Racing Club.

October 2011 – Robyn Claire Bugg, 50, stole $91,435 from Watson Davies Transport.

June 2011 – Kim Susanne Maisey, 54, stole more than $32,000 from Hamilton's Success Personnel.

April 2011 – Irene Pou, 43, stole $436,000 from a Waikato-based company.

October 2010 – Sarah Marie Olsen, 28, stole $379,339 from three former employers.

September 2010 – Tira Rawiri, 49, was convicted of a $46,000 benefit fraud.

September 2010 – Beverley Dawson, 45, stole more than $25,900 from Eftpos Specialists (Waikato) Ltd.

June 2010 – Linda Allan, 60, stole more than $166,000 from Peter Davison Builders Ltd.

May 2010 – Karen Wright, 52, stole $10,700 from Balloons over Waikato Charitable Trust.

Waikato Times