A mother told the court she was drowning in credit card debt and desperate to pay it off, even if it meant breaking the law.
A mother told the court she was drowning in credit card debt and desperate to pay it off, even if it meant breaking the law.

Staffer caught in lucrative refund scam

A fitness clothing employee who stole close to $2000 from her store in Westfield Chermside was sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid community service at the Sandgate Magistrates Court today.

The court heard Kimberley Jade Raewyn Watson, 26, was desperate and drowning in credit card debt when she committed 13 fraudulent transactions at Rockwear Australia last year.

Kimberley Jade Raewyn Watson was immediately fired upon confessing to the crime.
Kimberley Jade Raewyn Watson was immediately fired upon confessing to the crime.

Between September 16 and December 22 Watson processed a number of false refunds, ranging from $70 to $262, and transferred the funds back into her personal bank account, and two of her personal credit cards.

The total amount taken over the six month period amounted to $1927.

According to police prosecutor senior sergeant Troy Newman, the suspicious transactions were flagged by the company's finance department, prompting store employees to conduct a stock take that discovered the items in question had never been put back on the shelves.

Further investigation revealed Watson processed the refunds while logged on to the computer system.

Kimberley Jade Raewyn Watson processed 13 fraudulent refunds over six months, all under her own log in details.
Kimberley Jade Raewyn Watson processed 13 fraudulent refunds over six months, all under her own log in details.

When confronted by her manager, the court heard Watson immediately owned up to her actions and accepted the subsequent termination of her employment.

She sought to return the money by way of her remaining annual leave, and no further restitution was requested at court.

Lawyer Shane McDowell from McMillan Criminal Law said Watson, who is a New Zealand citizen, had been working as a cleaner and living with her son and fiance at her fiance's parents in Warner since the termination.

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Mr McDowell sought to assure Magistrate Sheryl Cornack there were no additional factors at play, asserting that Watson had "no underlying causes of gambling or alcohol addiction, just crushing financial debt".

Ms Cornack told Watson employees had been sentenced to jail for similar offences, but given her lack of criminal history Watson was given 150 hours of unpaid community service, to be completed within the next 12 months.

No conviction was recorded.

Originally published as Rockwear staffer caught in lucrative Chermside refund scam


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