A man has been jailed after he fraudulently gained £564,480 from his employer by setting up a fake IT hardware supplier and processing 53 invoices over a period of two and a half years.
Anthony Murrell, 44, was this month sentenced at Inner London Crown Court to three years and four months imprisonment, following an investigation by the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad.
A month earlier he had pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position.
The Fraud Squad first became aware of Murrell’s fraudulent activity through a referral from his employer. At the time of the referral, Murrell had been made redundant, though this was due to a company restructure and not related to the fraud offences.
Detective Constable Daniel Ward, who led the investigation, said: “Murrell betrayed the trust of his employer and exploited his position to steal more than half a million pounds. While he claimed he needed it for house renovations, it’s clear that he also used it to enjoy a luxury lifestyle, with purchases of items such as cars and jewellery.
“Thanks to his company’s vigilance, and their subsequent referral to the City of London Police, Murrell has been brought to justice for his crime.”
Murrell was responsible for the maintenance of their IT systems. As part of his role, he traded with an IT reseller, which ordered items and services on behalf of the company, and would receive a small service fee.
The suppliers would invoice the IT reseller for the items and they would in turn invoice Murrell’s company with their service fee added.
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Roughly a month after he’d been made redundant, staff at the company identified a suspicious invoice from the IT reseller for computer cabling worth £9,600, which had been approved by Murrell.
The invoice raised concerns as the cost of these items were considerably higher than their regular market price, and the items couldn’t be found anywhere in the building.
It was discovered that this invoice was connected to a company called LillyPutts, which the IT reseller had added to their list of suppliers following a request by Murrell.
Further investigation revealed that the IT reseller had initially been contacted by a woman who purportedly worked for LillyPutts.
She claimed that Murrell had advised her to contact them so that LillyPutts could be added to their supplier list, which they did with the understanding that Murrell had carried out the necessary checks.
However, analysis of his employer’s static IP address showed that some of the emails from Lillyputts had been sent from the company’s building in the City of London, and not from LillyPutts’ alleged business address in Brentwood.
In addition, financial analysis showed that the bank account into which the IT reseller paid the funds to LillyPutts belonged to Murrell.
In total, Murrell’s employer received 53 invoices from the IT reseller in connection with items that had been purchased by LillyPutts, resulting in Murrell fraudulently gaining £564,480.
The payments that got processed were made to Murrell’s bank account, which he subsequently moved into two other accounts he owned, one of which was a joint account in his name and an alias name.
Based on the evidence that had been gathered, Murrell was arrested. He admitted to the offences during interview and claimed that he needed the money to help renovate his family’s home, which had deteriorated and caused his children to become ill due to damp.
However, analysis of his bank accounts showed that during his time of offending, he’d used the money to purchase a Ford car, a Land Rover and jewellery worth £14,413.