An Alliance & Leicester reg-ional manager has been jailed for 20 months for defrauding customers out of £140,000.
Christine Dunford, 53, who worked for Alliance & Leicester in Southampton, admitted a series of theft charges when she appeared before Southampton Crown Court on March 11.
The court heard that Dunford, who had worked for Alliance & Leicester for 30 years and had risen to the position of regional manager, stole the money to fund her husband’s landscape gardening business which was failing financially.
Over a period of three years beginning in 2005, Durnford used her position of responsibility to withdraw money from clients’ accounts.
She would then switch cash between accounts to try to hide the theft from customers. She targeted little-used or dormant accounts or accounts of elderly customers in the hope that the transactions would go unnoticed.
However, the court heard the scam was exposed when an 81-year-old woman discovered that £5,000 had been withdrawn from her account.
When the customer contacted Alliance & Leicester, an investigation was launched which led to Durnford’s suspension and the police being called in.
Passing sentence, Judge Christopher Leigh said: “You abused your position of trust.”
An Alliance & Leicester spokeswoman says: “An incident of this type is treated very seriously. We have fully assisted the police with their enquiries and have also undertaken a full internal investigation. Those customers affected have been contacted and their balances have been fully restored.”