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Bodybuilder payroll clerk stole over $200,000 from Woolworths


It’s all about the money

A senior Woolworths payroll clerk who stole over $200,000 and attempted to take a further $400,000 to fund her lifestyle in the USA while representing Australia in a bodybuilding competition has been sentenced to 5 years in prison.

A senior Woolworths payroll clerk who stole over $200,000 and attempted to take a further $400,000 to fund her lifestyle in the USA while representing Australia in a bodybuilding competition has been sentenced to 5 years in prison.

The payroll clerk stole the money by making it appear as though Woolworths was paying former employees – when in fact that money was going directly into her own bank account.

This is not the first case of employees misappropriating money from their employer. In 2012, an ING senior accountant stole $45.3 million over five years and used the money for luxury goods, property and jewellery. The money was taken by making transfers into her personal accounts or directly to shops and real estate agents. The senior accountant then used the computer log-ins of former staff to delete the records or alter them so the transactions appeared legitimate. The accountant was sentenced to at least seven years in jail.

In 2009, the Payroll Manager of Clive Peeters stole over $19 million from her employer. The Payroll Manager used this money to purchase properties in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, cars, motorbikes and jewellery. The Payroll Manager was also one of the largest private shareholders in the business, having spent some of the stolen money on shares.

These cases are a good reminder for employers to conduct random payroll audits throughout the year. Payroll audits should not just be conducted where it is feared there is suspicious activity going on but to ensure all details in the system are up to date (for example, former employees are no longer in the current employees section, or that employees are paid the correct rate of pay).

A payroll audit can reveal if there are employees who are no longer employed by a business or whether “ghost” (fake) employees are being paid. To reduce the risk of a ghost employee, businesses can look at whether there are duplicate names, addresses, dates of birth, tax file numbers and bank account details kept on file. By conducting audits and regular checks, employers are able to minimise the risk of payroll fraud.


Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.


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