A gambling addict who committed a “spectacular breach of trust” when he embezzled more than £220,000 from one of Scotland’s largest legal firms has been jailed.
Trainee paralegal Callum Scott admitted swindling £223,000 from his employer Aberdein Considine in order to pay off a raft of payday loans he’d used to feed his crippling addiction.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard how 23-year-old Scott was “stealing from Peter to pay Paul” during the four-month scam.
His deception was discovered following an internal investigation at the firm, sparked when some customers queried why their money hadn’t been returned.
Fiscal depute Colin Neilson told the court Scott helped organise refunds, repayments or overpayments to customers and redirected the cash to his own bank account.
Mr Neilson said: “On receiving instructions the accused then entered his own banking details, resulting in the funds that were to be transferred to customers being transferred to his own bank account – this was done on several occasions by the accused.”
Following the internal probe the company contacted police and Scott was charged with embezzling the huge sum between August and November 2018.
Defence solicitor Jen Pritchard said Scott, who is now working as a milkman, found himself in “unique and dark times” due to the nature of his gambling habit but has since “faced his demons”.
She added: “He fully accepts that he had substantial gambling addictions and had got himself into a lot of financial trouble with payday loans, credit cards and other debts.
Being a new dad has changed him
“He was spending up to half his monthly income on these gambling debts and gambling.
“He fully accepted when spoken to by Aberdein Considine and police that he had partaken in this behaviour.
“He finds it hard to put into words how guilty and ashamed he is.
“Looking back he is horrified of the person he was and the person he had become.”
Ms Pritchard said Scott had recently become a father, which had “changed him as a person”.
He has also managed to replay close to £160,000 of the total sum he stole.
‘No alternative to a custodial sentence’
Sheriff Philip Mann described Scott’s actions as a “spectacular breach of trust” and an example of “stealing from Peter to pay Paul”.
He added: “No doubt your activities caused concern to those clients of Aberdein Considine, who were expecting to receive refunds and I do know that some funds will be outstanding for many, many months.
“I have to say that the breach of trust is so spectacular that despite the fact you are a first offender there is no alternative to a custodial sentence in this case.”
Sheriff Mann sentenced Scott, of Lang Stracht, Aberdeen, to 16 months in prison.
A spokesman for Aberdein Considine said: “Aberdein Considine carries out remortgage conveyancing work under a rigorous compliance framework governed by the Law Society of Scotland, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Solicitors Regulation Authority – as well as the elite standards of our multiple lender clients.
“It was the robust internal processes within this framework which quickly alerted us to the transactional irregularities involved in this case, allowing us to recover funds and alert the police. No client suffered any financial loss.”