A retail sports apparel and merchandise chain in the UK is £27,901 (US$32,815) poorer thanks to the sticky fingers of one of its employees. Former JD Sports employee Siraj Mahmood stole the money in order to spend gambling, but his targets weren’t casinos or sportsbooks.
Mahmood worked in the complaints department of JD Sports’ headquarters in Manchester, England, helping consumers settle problems they had with their purchases. But, while he was helping them, he was also helping himself to some of the company’s money.
Over the course of five months last year, Mahmood pilfered money using different methods. His gambling addiction wasn’t slots or sports; instead, he was gambling on cryptocurrencies and the stock market.
Among other duties, Mahmood was in charge of assisting customers with their refunds. That was when the 26-year-old conjured up his scheme.
Mahmood decided that he could create fraudulent refund requests and use his own bank details for the deposits. On some occasions, he also submitted legitimate requests, but changed the bank information to his own.
It worked for a while. From June to October of last year, he reportedly completed 26 fraudulent transactions. However, JD Sports, which owns Sprinter, JD Gyms and more, has standard accounting practices that include microscopic scrutiny of money movements. As a result, a regular audit uncovered his activity.
When his manager approached Mahmood, he admitted to his actions. He allegedly lost money gambling on cryptocurrency, and needed a way to recover. But, after seeing how easy it was, he apparently let it get the best of him.
JD Sports, which recently sold Footasylum for a loss of $61.7 million to appease England’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), had no choice but to set an example through prosecution. As a result, Mahmood has had his day in court, but avoided any major punishment.
The judge in the case sentenced him to 18 months in prison; however, he suspended it for two years. In addition, Mahmood has to attend gambling rehabilitation and spend 200 hours performing community service.
The case still requires one more step. Mahmood will have to reimburse JD Sports, but a court will decide how much he will pay in a separate hearing.
Lessons Not Learned
There are regular reports of employees ripping off their companies for various reasons – some are more egregious than others. For example, a federal grand jury in the US recently indicted Maureen Woodson and Donna Thompson on two counts each of wire fraud and two counts each of mail fraud.
The pair were, respectively, the former city clerk and the former assistant city clerk of Flordell Hills, Missouri. The indictment accuses them of stealing $663,000 between February 2016 – April 2022.
Woodson and Thompson, according to court documents, wrote 61 checks for more than $531,000 to themselves without the knowledge or authority of Flordell Hills officials. In order to carry out their embezzlement, they forged the signatures of the treasurer and mayor on all of the checks. The indictment states that the couple used the money for personal expenses as well as gambling.
Woodson and Thompson allegedly used another $132,249 from city funds to pay their personal expenses in a separate fraud scheme. With this money, they paid their rent, federal taxes, entertainment and more.
Flordell Hills could probably learn a thing or two about accounting and audits from JD Sports. The town has a population of only 800, according to the Department of Justice, which means it should be easy to manage. Both of the employees are now looking at 20 years in prison for each of the charges, as well as a fine of up to $250,000.
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