Sunday school teacher given four years in jail for £800,000 theft from bank

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The Independent Online

For 13 years, Faye Johnson used her position as a cashier at Lloyds TSB and her impeccable reputation as a Sunday School teacher to divert £800,000 from her employer's coffers into her own account. But after a flawless attendance record, it took only one day of ill health for her deception to be discovered and yesterday she was jailed for four years.

Using her intricate knowledge of the banking system and an excellent memory, the 39-year-old used a complex paper smokescreen to juggle huge sums between internal accounts, keeping a constant mental tally of her mounting deception. She even managed to adapt to the computer age by mastering money movements after the introduction of new technology.

London's Southwark Crown Court was told, however, that the structure of her "mammoth" dishonesty meant the mother-of-one had no choice but to cover her tracks every day. As a result her Lloyds TSB employers came to believe she was a model worker – until 24 hours of sickness kept her at home and sowed the seeds of her eventual downfall.

Because she was so highly regarded she was able to initially explain away an apparent imbalance of the books on exchange rate differences. But, as the months passed, the pace of her plundering increased as she forged a string of high value bank drafts to allay further suspicion. Her luck finally ran out, however, last February when an internal audit stopped her in her tracks, Dean Armstrong, prosecuting, told the court.

By that time though she had pocketed a total of £802,145.23. While she readily admitted her guilt, detectives have only managed to "claw back" just over £9,000. The whereabouts of the remainder is not known, although evidence of "overseas assets" was beginning to emerge, Mr Armstrong said.

Johnson, from Streatham, south-west London, who admitted one count of theft, showed no emotion as Judge Paul Dodgson spoke of the "tragedy" her presence in the dock represented.

"But you have committed a string of serious thefts involving as it did a breach of trust. This was fraud on a mammoth scale. You worked for Lloyds TSB and systematically stole from them. You used your skills to conceal these thefts and indeed to create a trail of computer and paperwork that enabled them to be disguised for many, many years."

In doing so, he said, she had to keep a "precise tally" down to the last penny of what she had taken in order to prevent alarm bells ringing. At one stage in the scam she even used her unsuspecting partner's bank account.

Johnson's secret life of crime, which ended last year, was spent at the bank's Park Lane and Oxford Street branches in London.