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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Charity manager sentenced for embezzling £360k

This news post is over 6 years old

​Mary Booth stole huge sum while employed as payroll manager

A payroll manager who embezzled nearly £360,000 from the British Red Cross has been jailed for more than two years.

Mary Booth pretended to make payments to international delegates and charity employees at the organisation where she had worked for 34 years.

Instead she was transferring the money into her own bank accounts.

She told Paisley Sheriff Court she scammed the charity to fund her online gambling habit after splitting from her husband.

The court heard that the embezzlement was uncovered when an audit of payroll systems was carried out in March 2016.

Booth earned £45,000-per-year but retired in 2015 after working at the charity’s Scottish headquarters in Paisley, Renfrewshire as well as at the head office in London.

Seemingly trustworthy, the 56-year-old siphoned £359,551.27 from the charity’s accounts, which she paid in to her own bank.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said: “We were devastated to discover that a long-serving employee in a position of trust had defrauded us.

"Every day we strive to help some of the most vulnerable people in the UK and overseas and for our trust to be abused in this way is really, really disappointing.

We were devastated to discover that a long-serving employee in a position of trust had defrauded us - Mike Adamson

“As soon as we identified there was fraudulent activity we alerted the police and the Charity Commission and undertook an independent forensic financial audit.

“This member of staff was trusted to handle our money and that has given us cause to think long and hard about how we tighten up our procedures.

"We have put robust measures in place to prevent this from ever happening again.

“We have taken several important steps to review and further strengthen our financial controls and procedures to prevent this from ever happening again.

“This includes limiting access to key parts of our financial systems, reducing the ways that payments can be made and tightening controls so that payments can only be generated centrally by a smaller number of people."

Booth will now have to sell her £350,000 home to pay back the money.



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Common sense
over 6 years ago
I think it's a disgrace this poor woman who admitted she did wrong after she became addicted to gambling due to a breakdown in her marriage. It says she worked at the company for 34 years yet only ever made a mistake in her latter years. I don't condone what she did but I really don't see the logic in putting a lady of that age in prison, she has already offfered to pay back the money so the company are not at a loss, this is punishment itself along with a criminal record. People should be put in prison as a last resort for either continually committing a crime or a danger to society, she is neither.
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Christine grove
over 6 years ago
I couldn't agree more. She's made her mistakes and owned up to it, and giving all she owns back to repay. If you do a crime involving violence then you go to prison for a short period and don't loose all you have on the outside. She's taken double punishment here and doesn't seem very fair. I hope she doesn't serve the full sentence, because many people who commit violent crimes are released much earlier.
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The Voice of Justice
over 6 years ago
She deserves all she gets! Two years is very little after committing this type of abuse and dishonesty. Hardly being punished twice over - a position of trust severely abused, justice must be served on these individuals and the sooner the better in our estimation!
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Common sense
over 6 years ago
I think that's a very harsh view The Voice of Justice, she did do wrong and abused her position but the circumstances around it should have been factored in. She had an unblemished history before becoming a gambling addict due to a marriage breakdown, she admitted and offered to pay back in full. I don't see what is achieved by putting this lady in prison, I'd rather my taxes spent on putting re offending criminals and those that are a danger to society in prison. Ian Smith I would feel the same for whoever committed the crime, I would look at their previous history and reasons that could have caused them to do something they wouldn't have ever been likely to do before, be it a gambling addict, drug addict a nervous breakdown but someone that has made one mistake and paying for it I do not believe needs a custodial sentence. Our prisons are over run as it is, common sense needs to be used when deciding who needs to be behind bars because there are many walking the streets for stabbing, robberys etc etc.
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