back to article IT worker used access privs to steal £1m from Scottish city council

A former council IT worker in Scotland has been jailed for five years after abusing his system access privileges to help himself to more than £1m of public money. Mark Conway, 52, of Latch Road, Brechin, around 25 miles northeast of Dundee, was jailed today by the High Court in Glasgow after pleading guilty to defrauding …

  1. DNTP

    Scotsman steals a million pounds?

    No true Scotsman would steal a million pounds.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Scotsman steals a million pounds?

      Nope, they'd keep going and aim for at least ten.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Scotsman steals a million pounds?

        So it's true! If a Scotsman says he's not stealing a little, he must be stealing a lot.

        1. Mark 110 Silver badge

          Re: Scotsman steals a million pounds?

          I thought Scots were supposed to be tight not thieves. Its us scousers that are supposed to be light fingered with a particular penchant for car wheels for some unfathomable reason . . .

          1. Steve K Silver badge

            Re: Scotsman steals a million pounds?

            Calm down, calm down ;-)

            (I can't do the accent)

          2. Huw D
            Coat

            Re: Scotsman steals a million pounds?

            Is it true that the housing market is that bad in Liverpool that they're only using half the amount of bricks that they used to for jacking up the cars?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Scotsman steals a million pounds?

              I remember some years ago spending the night at a big chain hotel in Liverpool - the TV remote was screwed down to the bedside cabinet. Didn't stop some scouser breaking it to knick the batteries though

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Scotsman steals a million pounds?

            I thought copper wire was invented by two scotsmen fighting over a penny?

    2. ijustwantaneasylife

      Re: Scotsman steals a million pounds?

      Because?...

  2. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Seizing his pension?

    How does that help the world? On the basis that he's 52 and got five years, he won't work again for the next few years, and because he's got more than four years, the conviction will never become "spent" in disclosure terms.

    Realistically, he's never going to work again in anything other than a very junior position with a very forgiving employer. Or more likely, he's never going to work again. Ignoring whether he deserves it, my point is simply that one way or another the tax payer pays for his retirement, so seizing his pension merely means the welfare pot pays for his retirement.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seizing his pension?

      What else can you do? It's done as a deterrent, would you rather live on a decent pension or on welfare? If it's the former, then don't steal.

    2. Just Enough

      Re: Seizing his pension?

      They're talking about taking his work pension. He will still qualify for a state pension, which he'd qualify for regardless. So the tax-payer will still be paying for his retirement whether he was a criminal or not. (Or more precisely, his national insurance contributions will be notionally paying for it).

      The fact that he'll probably be on benefit until retirement age is unfortunate, but what are the alternatives? Pretend he doesn't owe the money back? Either way, he'll be dirt poor for the rest of his life and the only winners are the bookies who, no doubt, pocketed most of the stolen money.

    3. Bob Vistakin
      Holmes

      Re: Seizing his pension?

      His jail time will be fun. Lags pay tax too, and he's now the million quid target...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seizing his pension?

      Cruel and unusual punishment, have you seen how small the state pension is? He will be reduced to begging on the streets the skirt wearing thieving git. I hope the good citizens kick him every time they see him begging because they now have to make up the difference.

    5. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Seizing his pension?

      As has been said; what else can they do but seize whatever assets he has?

      At least it means he'll only get a few quid a week and not his final salary council pension.

      On a similar note..

      He stole a million quid.

      They expect to raise 50k from the sale of his house. What the actual fuck did he do with the money? What a fool.

      1. Bob Vistakin
        Facepalm

        Re: Seizing his pension?

        "What the actual fuck did he do with the money?" - it says he gambled it away straight into the bookies pockets.

        1. TitterYeNot

          Re: Seizing his pension?

          "What the actual fuck did he do with the money? - it says he gambled it away straight into the bookies pockets."

          Tolerant as I am of the addiction exploiting thieving bastards gambling industry, I'd be of a mind to get the money back from the bookies, otherwise charge them with handling stolen goods.

          Yes yes, I know, it could never happen, but a nice thought...

          1. John Savard Silver badge

            Re: Seizing his pension?

            Yes, you can't charge people with handling stolen goods if it's money that was stolen. That's to ensure that people are willing to accept money when it's tendered in order to purchase something, so that money will "work" as money. I remember seeing a mention of the specific age-old law at the start of a book on economics.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seizing his pension?

      Do prisoners get NI credits towards their pension?

  3. RegGuy1

    Sold his home

    his home is also being sold to raise a further £49,000.

    It must have been in an expensive part of Dundee.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sold his home

      Similar to seizing pension, perhaps this is short sighted.

      Council could rent home out whilst he's in prison and let him live his days out when out, hopefully back in employment. Then when dead sell home or WHY. As it is, it looks like state will be supporting him from now on.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sold his home

      Prison has to be a far better place to be than Dundee.

  4. J J Carter Silver badge
    Trollface

    Ceartas!

    All patriots who have been victims of yoon injustice will be given a royal pardon by Nicola, Queen of Scots, when Scots take our FREEDOM! in 2019, an SNP supporter told me earlier today.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ceartas!

      victims of yoon injustice will be given a royal pardon by Nicola, Queen of Scots

      Won't she be taking the name "Jeanette" when she becomes queen? Or "Wee Jimmie" is she chooses to become king, in these gender fluid days.

      1. Stratman

        Re: Ceartas!

        Mary Doll

  5. Anonymous IV
    Happy

    That's all right, then...

    > Dundee City Council said in a statement: "Following the discovery of this crime, Dundee City Council has taken action to prevent a fraud of this type from happening again in the future."

    Well done, chaps and ms-chaps! Lessons have been learned. Nothing can ever go wrong, now...

    Back to the office for tea and medals.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's all right, then...

      Well done, chaps and ms-chaps!

      What about it-chaps?

      Wouldn't want to hurt anybody's feelings, would we?

      1. handleoclast Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: That's all right, then...

        I figured out the best way to deal with these gender pronoun issues.

        Just use "fuckface." As in "Oi, fuckface, stop twatting around with these bloody silly pronouns."

        Works every time.

        Gets me fired, every time.

      2. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: That's all right, then...

        IT ? It? You fucking asshole no trans person wants to be called it. They wanted to be treated like human. Very even want you to use gender neutral pronouns. I'm a person not a thing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's all right, then...

          I'm an IT guy.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's all right, then...

          You are as guilty of bigotry as the original poster. There is no place for swearing here. It's just as offensive to me in the same way you find anti-LGBeTc to be. It's this nastiness in language in the connected world that leads to the world being the way it is and allows idiots like Trump into power.

          Think before you react.

      3. Roopee
        Alien

        Re: What about it-chaps?

        I read that linked page and found it hard to believe it wasn't taking the piss! I nearly said "extracting the Michael" but then I realised it might be offensive to our border-sharing European partners. Or men, or anyone called Michael.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Re: What about it-chaps?

          That says more about you than the entirely sensible advice on that page.

  6. EveryTime Silver badge

    He got away with siphoning money for seven years.

    You only have to be slightly better to get away with it indefinitely. Try rotating schemes every few years. Confuse the issue by gradually making the fake company legitimate. Even if it's only for the last payment, and you immediately dissolve it, that will stop most accountants from looking too closely at the previous payments.

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      "Even if it's only for the last payment, and you immediately dissolve it, that will stop most accountants from looking too closely at the previous payments"

      I'm getting a bit worried about you, EveryTime. Is there anything you need to 'fess up?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Poachers and gamekeepers are often interchangeable roles.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge
      Pint

      >You only have to be slightly better to get away with it indefinitely.

      Like use a business bank account rather than a personal account?

      1. rmason Silver badge

        Indeed.

        Had he setup "randomcompany 1234 LTD trading as scottish fuel" and a basic business account they probably would have looked no further, shrugged and said "glad we don't use them any more" and moved on. Make ANYONE but you the director of the "company". Job done. it took them 7 years to spot a million quid going missing FFS, so they hardly have access to the finest maths minds of this generation.

        It's not like your average council aren't getting ripped off at every possible opportunity. They would have wasted no more time on it than they would looking into why a mouse and KB set cost them 150 quid.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          >so they hardly have access to the finest maths minds of this generation.

          In my experience accounting isn't so much about math as basic book work - check, double check and cross reference the paper trail...

          Which is basically how he was found out; someone probably went to the paper files, couldn't find the paperwork that would normally be associated with a general ledger entry and contacted the bank for the account contact details ...

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "They would have wasted no more time on it than they would looking into why a mouse and KB set cost them 150 quid."

          My experience is that they spend more time looking at the small purchases than the stonking big ones.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "My experience is that they spend more time looking at the small purchases than the stonking big ones."

            An apocryphal example was the boardroom voting on various financial matters. Complex items of several million pounds were nodded through quickly. Then came the quote for repainting the bicycle shed. The discussion went on for a long time - as it was an issue that everyone actually understood and had an opinion on.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge
    Holmes

    Hate to be his IT superior

    There must be some questions asked of his superiors? Must have been a hot seat at one time.

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Hate to be his IT superior

      IT or accounting ? I'm not sure I'd expect IT to be so good at catching these things .

  8. TDog

    It seems both cruel and counterproductive

    Just out of curiosity how many councillors have had their houses seized; with or without being found corrupt?

  9. JJKing Bronze badge
    Coat

    Jail, hmm?

    At least he didn't get off Scot free.

    Jimmy, mine's the one without the fried Mars bar in the pocket.

  10. Roopee
    FAIL

    Failure and Incompetence

    Similarly to @TDog, as an ex-accountant my first thought was "I wonder how many senior council accountants and directors of the external auditors are going to have their huge pensions and houses seized to pay for their obvious failures and incompetence?".

  11. david 12 Bronze badge

    Can't happen again. Now. WTF were the doing for the last 10 years? Where's the asset recorded against the expense? Who's checking the double-entry book keeping? Do they think that self-authorized theft is a new invention? That gambling-related theft is a new thing? Did they think it all?

    Was this amount of money so small compared to management wages that they didn't think it was important to follow up?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Where's the asset recorded against the expense?"

      This is one of those cases where "fuel purchases" mean people get more lax about checking it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Och Aye the Noo

    Gaol or living in Dundee.

    How does one tell the difference?

    - roons awa'

  13. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    So he have lost his house, pension, and work.

    And the prospects of employment is looking very, very poor.

    What will his options be?

    1. Suicide

    2. Steal money, gamble and hope to strike the jackpot

    3. Go around as a homeless beggar

    In this case crime does not pay, but others will ignore the lesson and try their luck, thinking that maybe, just maybe, they will not get caught.

    1. rmason Silver badge

      He's in the UK.

      He'll get council housing for one, with a side of state pension.

      Before he's old enough to claim that he'll get job seekers allowance etc as well. As long as he shows up to the job centre once a fortnight and pretends he's applying for work. Or of course actually apply for work and spend a few years getting endlessly rejected after interviews when he tries to explain a several year gap on his CV and prays they don't DBS check.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      And the prospects of employment is looking very, very poor.

      What will his options be?

      1. Start proceedings against the council - a case can probably be made that the way the court/council are going about recovery is significantly under valuing the seized assets.

      I would be very interested in the pension fund valuation as the figure of £259,000 looks very low for the valuation of an LGPS fund covering 30 years of service - representing a final pensionable salary of around £12,500 pa; likewise, if this is just the lump sum then this would indicate he was on a pensionable salary north of £300,000 pa which also seems unlikely.

      2. Use the 5 years in prison to get qualifications (MBA, OU Masters?) in financial systems, fraud and money laundering and so come out and become a speaker on such matters and thus start a renumerative consulting career. At 55~60 on leaving prison, he has potentially 10+ years of gainful employment and the potential to earn £1M - which by using his obvious financial management skills should largely be free of UK tax...

    3. wayward4now
      Linux

      "In this case crime does not pay, but others will ignore the lesson and try their luck, thinking that maybe, just maybe, they will not get caught."

      Ah! That is the "I love it when a great plan comes together" syndrome. Among prisoners, that is the past glory topic discussed and not the one that got them there!

  14. samzeman

    Possible unpopular opinion

    Important to note he did it to fund a gambling addiction. He needs rehab, and then he can go back into the world and pay off his debts slowly. Like a mortgage, I guess. Also, some sort of internet and real world house arrest so that he's kept away from places with gambling regardless.

    I'm not saying he's not to blame, but he needs help as well as being punished.

  15. Stratman

    One such fake payment, for £17,912, was labelled as being for "Scottish Fuels".

    That's a lot to spend on Bucky and Special Brew, even for a Jock.

  16. John Savard Silver badge

    Sources

    If he spent his money on legal gamblling, doesn't that yield profits for the government and for charities? Some of the money the government got from that should be used to fully refund every cent of the money that was stolen and is now not recoverable.

  17. Tim Soldiers

    Look your'e all being frightfully naive.

    "Gambled it away" is just code for "Always knew I was going to get caught" so "hidden off-shore" & "I can't believe I got away with it for so long".

    Obvs

  18. jcitron
    IT Angle

    So where was the system audting in this?

    It's hard to believe that this kind of thing could go on this long without being caught sooner. If the IT department was run properly, then there would have been safeguards in place such as account auditing.

    When I worked for a life insurance company many years ago, the systems were logged, tracked, time stamped, and access was audited for any access required for personnel information and anything involving funds including accounting.

    There were also specific users who had access to the specific systems, though administrators and other MIS/IT staff could access specific system areas, but in no way, shape or form, were IT people allowed near the accounting or personnel side of things (HR actually). Anyone, including IT staff were audited and the audit files were sent off to be examined on a frequent basis.

    Even my old company, now closed due to the Great Depression of 2007-2009, had an auditing system implemented. This tracked all user logins and system access, though in the simplest form, and was recorded in the event viewer since we were using Windows NT 4.0 (shudders) at the time.

    Perhaps this is the right way to do things, and the local city government, being local city government, did not think this far ahead, and placed too much trust in their IT staff.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019