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A woman that worked as a finance officer for one of Cambridge University's colleges has been jailed for two-and-a-half years for stealing almost £300,000. Jacqueline Balaam was suffering from a gambling addiction and, during the five years she worked at Pembroke College, was paying money into her own account by duplicating invoices. Her role as a purchase ledger clerk allowed her to manipulate the accounts system; in the months leading to her discovery, she was making payments to her own account four times per week.

Balaam had opened an account with online bingo site Jackpotjoy in 2006 and during the following eight years, deposited almost £325,000 of her own money. Despite occasionally winning amounts of up to £15,000, she would rarely withdraw the money. Instead, she would reinvest. When her account was examined, it was found that she had placed bets of £6,383,126. Her withdrawals amounted to just £87,600.

Duplicating Invoices

Balaam began working for Pembroke College in 2009. However, in 2012 she started duplicating invoices from suppliers that regularly paid the college. She would make herself the payee and once the invoice had been paid would change the details on the invoice to make the supplier the payee, ensuring that they were paid too. In total, she duplicated 77 invoices; it was only during an internal audit in 2014 that her crimes were discovered.

Another Victim

After the college called the police, it was discovered that Balaam had another victim - Girton Social Club, at which she was volunteering as treasurer. During her four years at the Cambridgeshire social club, she had also stolen £3,000.

Balaam admitted to having a gambling addiction and pleaded guilty to all charges. During her court case, the judge told her that because she had not attempted to get help for her addiction he had no option but to impose a prison sentence. Because of the way she had covered her tracks and manipulated her records, she could not be considered for a suspended sentence, despite the fact that she had not benefited from her crimes.

Destructive Addiction

Balaam did not steal for personal gain or profit. She did not purchase expensive cars or holidays. Every penny she took was to feed her gambling addiction. She was suffering from an illness but since her arrest has started to address the problem. She lost her job and will now have a criminal record. She will also spend time behind bars, with her family suffering as a result.

A spokesperson for Pembroke College admitted that the losses suffered by the college were mostly covered by insurance but that they would be doing all they can to recover the remaining losses. He also said that the college had implemented changes to its systems to ensure that something like this could not happen again. He said, "Now that the circumstances are not in dispute we would like to express our regret and sadness about this incident, which had miserable human consequences."

Help for Gambling Addiction

Jacqueline Balaam is not the first person to find herself behind bars because of a gambling addiction that spiralled out of control, and she probably won't be the last. A gambling addiction can be expensive and to continue funding it can mean addicts resorting to desperate measures.

However, there is help for those with gambling addictions and the earlier help is sought, the better. Maybe if Balaam had looked for help earlier, the situation would not have become so desperate. Rehab Helper's team of expert advisors are helping people with all types of addiction to get the treatment they need. Call today if you are suffering from addiction. We can put you in touch with a suitable treatment provider from which you will get the help you need.

Source:

  • http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11475649/Cambridge-University-bursar-jailed-for-stealing-300000-to-fund-bingo-addiction.html
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