Former bank employee jailed for fraud

Jessica Harper.
Jessica Harper. Photo: Police handout

A woman who defrauded over £2.4million from her banking employers to fund shopping sprees and her social life has been jailed for a total of nine years at Southwark Crown Court.

Jessica Harper, 50, from Croydon at the time of her arrest, abused her position as Interim Head of Fraud and Security for Digital Banking at Lloyds Banking Group Plc by forging and authorising invoices made out to her personal bank account.

As a result of the fraud, which took place between December 2007 and December 2011, payment for some genuine invoices was also made into her account bringing the total sum she defrauded the bank of to £2,463,750.88.

In December 2011, Lloyds Banking Group Plc launched an internal investigation into Harper and subsequently reported their findings to the Met. Officers from the Met's Fraud Squad arrested Harper at her home on 21 December 2011.

Upon arrest and interview, Harper confessed to the fraud and told police she had spent some of the money on taking friends out, buying clothes and having her garden landscaped. She also said she had donated some of it to charity.

Harper was charged with one count of fraud by abuse of position, contrary to Section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006. A further count of concealing, disguising, converting, transferring, or removing criminal property contrary to Section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 was subsequently added to the indictment.

She pleaded guilty to both at Southwark Crown Court on 27 August 2012.

To date Harper has repaid £376,365.52 with a further estimated £330,000 to come from the sale of property. Police are conducting a financial investigation and have commenced confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 with a view to obtaining the outstanding sum.

This case is an example of a serious abuse of position by a senior bank employee who should have been protecting the bank and its customers against fraud.

Jessica Harper stole nearly £2.5million from the bank over a number of years and while she has repaid some of the money we are actively seeking further assets for confiscation.

This should serve as a warning to any bank employee that the Met will thoroughly investigate such frauds, which rarely remain undiscovered. Jessica Harper has destroyed her own reputation and the sentence reflects the seriousness of the offence.

– Detective Chief Inspector Robin Cross of the MPS's Fraud Squad

Harper was jailed for five years for fraud and four years for money laundering - sentences to run concurrently.