A Leamington bank cashier made a series of withdrawals from a vulnerable customer’s account – and took the cash home with him in his lunchbox.
Neil Harvey’s dishonesty only came to light after his 70-year-old victim tried to withdraw some money over the counter at the HSBC, only to be told he was overdrawn.
Harvey (pictured right), aged 55, of Shipston-on Stour, was jailed for two years and four months at Warwick Crown Court after pleading guilty to fraud in abuse of a position of trust.
Prosecutor Laura Culley said Harvey had worked for HSBC for 36 years, and at the branch in the Parade, Leamington, for the last six of those.
But between April last year and March this year he took a total of £61,330 from the account of the elderly customer in a large number of transactions. The pensioner, who was vulnerable not just because of his age but because he was unable to read or write, mainly made over-the-counter withdrawals from his account.
Because of that Harvey was able to take advantage of his position as a cashier at the bank, while helping the customer with legitimate transactions, to obtain paperwork with his signature on which he could then use himself.
Miss Culley said Harvey would withdraw cash from the old man’s account and conceal it in his lunch box before taking it home and then bringing it back the next day to pay into his own account.
The frauds only came to light when the pensioner went into the bank and tried to withdraw some money from his account, which should have had more than £60,000 in it, only to be told he was overdrawn.
When Harvey was arrested he admitted what he had been doing, saying he had used the money to pay family bills, and added that he had also been using money from his daughter’s savings account.
Miss Culley added that the customer has been reimbursed by the HSBC, and the bank has written to Harvey to say they intend to recover a total of £65,387 from his pension.
Paul O’Keefe, defending, said Harvey had financial difficulties, with debts of £15,000 at the time, and he needed assistance with a bill which was not going to be paid, while assuring his wife that everything would be in order.
He submitted that it was not necessary to pass an immediate prison sentence on Harvey, whose wife was aware he was in court but his three children were not.
But jailing Harvey, Judge Parker told him: “You had led an exemplary life up until the spring of last year. This was a severe abuse of a position of trust and responsibility.”
“But from then on, for a period of about 11 months, I’m afraid I am driven to the conclusion that you targeted him as your intended victim because you recognised that he was a man with significant savings in his bank account and that he was a very vulnerable man.
“He was well into his 70s and cannot read or write, and therefore was very vulnerable and would be likely to miss the fact that sums of money were being removed from his bank account.
“It must have been the most terrible shock to him to discover when he came to the bank that that very large sum of money had gone missing.
“This was a severe abuse of a position of trust and responsibility, and involved the deliberate targeting of a vulnerable victim.
“Members of the public need to know they can trust employees at their bank not to identify them as potential targets in order to steal money from them.”