Payroll Officer Spent Stolen Cash On Candy Crush

Courtesy of Australian Payroll Association

A woman who defrauded her mushroom farm employer of more than $1 million, spending $180,000 on the mobile game Candy Crush, has pleaded guilty to theft and had her bail revoked.

Allison Simmons pleaded guilty to seven charges of theft after swindling more than $1 million over six years while working as a payroll officer at fungus producer Merbein Mushrooms in Victoria’s northwest.

She began making unauthorised inflated payments to her bank account in 2013 using the company’s payroll system, accruing $279,496 by 2019, prosecutor Peter Pickering told the County Court on Monday.

The 52-year-old also made 435 transactions worth $884,423 to other bank accounts before transferring that money onto herself, totalling $1,163,919 by 2019.

The plot was foiled after another worker discovered money being sent to unknown bank accounts attached to different employees at the company who complained of not getting paid.

Simmons had secretly changed their bank details to accounts operated by herself.

The mushroom business director Geoffrey Izard hired an IT expert to investigate when he was informed, fearing the company had been hacked.

An audit of the payroll system uncovered Simmons’ crime.

The court was told she made multiple cash withdrawals worth $203,000 and spent about $181,000 on Facebook games including Candy Crush, $86,000 on retail expenses and paid $151,000 to family members from the stolen money.

Simmons claimed Mr Izard approved her pay increase after being given the role of occupational health and safety officer, Mr Pickering told the court.

She then blamed the director for requesting money to be withdrawn so they could be given to him as cash which the prosecutor noted Mr Izard previously denied.

“When confronted with the problem, she tries to cover it up – she lies,” Mr Pickering said.

Both lawyers conceded Simmons should face jail time for the crimes.

But defence lawyer Raj Bhattacharya said his client had a history of depression which made jail time more onerous.

“While she is unwell now, it will be significantly worse under a term of imprisonment,” he said.

Mr Pickering said that despite her being diagnosed and treated in the past for a depressive disorder, prison would only add a little pressure.

“Anything beyond that that it will make her condition worse is entirely speculative and has little weight,” he countered.

He characterised her offending as “involving a degree of subterfuge” and it was discovered by luck.

“She made the mistake of being greedy by using the account of an existing employee,” he said.

Simmons was previously convicted of a similar crime.

Judge David Sexton commented on her “troubling” lack of remorse as he revoked her bail.

Simmons will be sentenced at a later date.

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