By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A worker at a homelessness service has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $25,000 from her employer – effectively taking from “the poorest of the poor”, according to a Dandenong magistate.
Simone Boyd, 40, of Narre Warren, had used her employer WAYSS Ltd’s cheque book to fraudulently ‘buy’ items such as $500 gift cards, six i-Phones, an Apple Mac Pro computer, hand-held massagers and an array of household items, Dandenong Magistrates’ Court heard on 5 March.
As a case worker, Boyd was authorised to use the cheques to buy white goods, clothing and bedding for families in crisis.
During the transactions, Boyd’s clients still received the legitimate items but Boyd topped up the purchases with personal goods.
She hid the fraud by using ‘cut-and-paste’ to alter receipts, she later admitted to police.
Boyd completed 27 fraudulent transactions at The Good Guys outlets as well as Super A-Mart in Dandenong South across nine months before they were discovered by WAYSS in April 2015.
None of the $24,718 of property has been recovered.
The bevy of phones and gift cards were on-sold on e-Bay and Gumtree online-trading websites for personal profit, prosecutor Senior Constable Jaimie Jeffs told the court.
According to defence lawyer Farah Banihali, the seed was planted during an $1800 transaction at The Good Guys.
The clerk “knocked out” some of the purchase price and provided a gift card for the reduced amount.
“She didn’t realise you could do that and it escalates from there,” Ms Banihali said.
At the time, Boyd had encountered “issues” at work such as bullying and refused pay-rise requests.
She had long desired to help the community while at school and at WAYSS.
Magistrate Jack Vandersteen asked Ms Banihali why Boyd would do this to “the poorest of the poor”.
Ms Banihali said the clients still received their requested goods. They were “in no way disadvantaged”.
Mr Vandersteen noted the deceptions however bit into WAYSS’s bottom line. It was an “enormous breach of trust”, he said.
He took into account that Boyd had been punished by a three-year delay since her offences were discovered, and Boyd had indicated remorse from the outset.
Jailing the single mother would have an unjust impact on her children, Mr Vandersteen said.
Boyd was sentenced to an 18-month community corrections order including 250 hours of unpaid work and mental health treatment.
She was ordered to repay $24,718 to WAYSS.

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