$293,000 fraud lands 'greedy' employee in jail

A REDLANDS woman's $293,000 theft almost brought her former employer to its knees.

Kim Louise Carlos pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court on Wednesday to one count of dishonestly gaining benefit or advantage from an employer between August, 2011 and December 13, 2014.

She will serve 18 months of a five-year jail term with the remainder of the sentence suspended for three and a half years.

Crown prosecutor Katrina Overell said the 44-year-old mother of three's "greed" was so bad that she more than doubled her $109,000 Fulcrum Suspensions pay packet by ripping the company off.

To rub salt into the wound she also used Fulcrum's resources for her own profitable business, which provided wedding services across Toowoomba, Ipswich, the Gold Coast, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.

"She appears to have offended out of greed not need," Ms Overell said.

"She had a comfortable income, there's no evidence she had significant expenses outside of her control such as medical costs.

"And she started a company during her employment and took advantage of the company (Fulcrum) while running her own business."

Ms Overell said Carlos had "considerable control" over the finances of Fulcrum - a vehicle parts supplier - included being responsible for issuing and paying invoices which is how she managed to get away with the crime for three years.

The offending came to light in December 2014 when someone at an external company noticed it had been invoiced for services that the company had never provided.

A subsequent audit of Fulcrum's accounts found 67 false invoices directing more than $293,000 into Carlos's bank account.

Ms Overell said the theft was so bad for the company that its owners were forced to take out substantial loans and mortgages against their own homes to keep it afloat.

"It was a significant act against the company," she said.

"The cash flow was significantly impacted by her activities.

"The total loss, including interest, was $309,329."

Defence barrister Ruth O'Gorman said her client, who has depression and anxiety, stole from Fulcrum because she and her husband were struggling under the weight of major debt.

"They were trying to service their home mortgage, a number of credit cards and car loans in circumstances where (her husband) was receiving a disability pension and no more significant income which meant my client was the financial provider," Ms O'Gorman said.

"During the course of the marriage she became increasingly unhappy - she and her husband became estranged but were living under the same roof and during those years she used shopping and excessive spending to help her escape from her problems and to cope with her daily realities.

"Unsurprisingly those behaviours contributed to the debt spiral ... and that escalated her feelings of unhappiness and anxiety."

Justice Ian Dearden told Carlos she took advantage of her trusted role at Fulcrum Suspensions.

"When you abuse a position of trust as consistently and as substantially as you did over that period of time ... causing loss and damage in excess of over $300,000 who you have caused enormous damage to someone else.

"At the end of the day ... this was a family business.

"This wasn't just a nameless faceless corporation - these are real people employing real people all of which you put at risk when you defrauded consistently.

"You were being well paid at the time - by my calculations you well and truly more than doubled your take-home pay by defrauding (the business)."

- APN NEWSDESK


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