In the UK, a British National Health Service (NHS) administrator, who bought just under R3,000,000 worth printer ink with public money before selling them on eBay, was sent to jail last month. Madeleine Webster (47), and her husband Stephan (46), from Stonycroft, Liverpool, were sentenced to 23 months and 13 months in jail for their crime.
The Liverpool Crown Court was told that the money the couple took from the notoriously financially strained public health service could have paid for 6 full time nursing positions. The couple made an estimated R1,500,000 in profit selling the ink cartridges and toner and used the money to pay for expensive holidays and luxury goods.
Mrs Webster’s fraud was uncovered by accident when she sent an email to a colleague with a link to her eBay account. The account contained many references to printer ink and toner cartridges being sold and had positive feedback from buyers. Mrs Webster’s colleague then informed her boss and an investigation was launched.
The investigation found that before Mrs Webster took over ordering the printer cartridges, the department she worked in spent about R44 000 a year on ink and toner. After it became her responsibility, the bill skyrocketed to about R191 000 in 2008, and went up to just over R1,000,000 in 2012.
When she was arrested, Mrs Webster tried to suggest that the problems with the orders were down to the mistakes of receptionists or computer errors and that others may have had access to her accounts, claims which were proven false. She later pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and her husband, who admitted to taking just over R1,700,000 worth of printer cartridges to a customer in Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to possessing criminal property.
Judge Graham Morrow told Mrs Webster that she had abused her position of trust within the NHS and that her actions had put financial pressure on an already hard pressed service.
It’s hard to believe, but some people will do anything in order to make a profit.