Solicitor’s secretary fiddled the books to overpay her husband by £75,000

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An embezzler found herself in hot water after auditors discovered she had cooked the books of the firm she worked for to the tune of £75,000.

Karen Humphries (47) appeared at Stirling Sheriff Court last Wednesday, facing a prison sentence for the offence she committed while working as a secretary with Alloa-based mortgage and investment brokers Solicitors Financial Services (SFS).

Her job had a number of responsibilities, including paying financial sales advisors working for SFS. The role included distributing and recording the commission due to members of the freelance sales team, which included her husband John Humphries (50).

In July 2016 the company’s annual accounts, which were expected to show a healthy profit, suddenly swung into loss, and auditors were called in.

Checks showed between February 2013 and July 2016, Humphries had overpaid Mr Humphries by a total of £75,000.

She was confronted about the matter and resigned.

Police were called in and she subsequently pled guilty to embezzling the £75,000.

Procurator fiscal depute Ruaraidh Ferguson said: “Over the time Karen Humphries worked for SFS, she exclusively had responsibility for making payments to the financial advisors, among making other transactions.

“The offence was discovered as a result of the annual accounts being checked in July 2016. Despite SFS expecting to have generated a profit, the accounts showed a loss and an investigation was launched.

“It revealed one financial advisor had been significantly overpaid. This was John Humphries, the husband of the accused.

“He was the only financial advisor to be overpaid.”

Humphries was arrested at her home in McAlpine Court, Tullibody and taken to Falkirk Police Station.

Stirling Sheriff Court heard some £54,000 had since been repaid.

Advocate Tony Lenehan, defending, said the £75,000 represented commission on sales that “had not yet been booked”, and was a result of Humphries “running ahead of herself”.

He said she was “a lady hitherto held in high regard by all who knew her”.

Sheriff David Mackie placed Humphries on a supervised community payback order for 12 months with the condition she complete 300 hours of unpaid work and repay her former employers the £21,000 she still owes within 10 months.

The court heard her plea had triggered action under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The Crown is seeking a confiscation order under the Act for more than £500,000 allegedly ill-gotten by Humphries, who had worked for SFS for 13 years.

Mr Ferguson, the depute fiscal, said: “The recoverable amount relates to funds that the Crown allege comes from general criminal conduct.”

The Proceedings of Crime action was continued until November 12 for Humphries’ legal team to prepare rebuttals to the Crown’s allegations that her criminal conducted netted such a large sum.

Humphries also worked for Grangemouth’s RGM Solicitors from 1993 to 2006.