Carer who was overpaid £10,000 due to company error spent the money before employer noticed

03 January 2020

Michelle Marsh, who was employed by Anman Care Services, received £11,744 in her March 2019 pay packet due to an administrative error, when ordinarily she would have received £1,744. Rather than alerting the company she worked for of the issue, she spent the balance of the overpayment within days.

The firm realised that there had been a serious mistake and contacted the employee to request the money back but were told that the money had already gone. She confirmed that she would have to pay the money back in instalments.

Marsh was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on 2 January, where a Judge remarked that she must have known that the appropriate action to take would have been to report the discrepancy, and not spend the funds that she was not entitled to. Her barrister confirmed that she was in a “desperate financial situation” and that she was “utterly ashamed” of her actions and the impact that her offending had had on all involved. He also added,

“Once the money was there, temptation got the better of her and the money was gone. It was almost inevitable that she would get caught.”

 The defendant pleaded guilty to theft and has no previous convictions. The Judge recognised that, although the sentencing guidelines advised of a custodial sentence that would last a matter of weeks, he felt that this would “achieve absolutely nothing”, and handed her a two-year community order, along with 240 hours of unpaid work. There was no order for compensation or prosecution costs.

 CIPP comment

 Once an overpayment has been made, it can sometimes be difficult to recoup the funds sent in error for a variety of reasons. To help prevent overpayments from occurring in the first instance, the CIPP offers a half-day training course which assists in identifying common causes of overpayments which can work to prevent them from ever happening. The next course is being held in London on 14 February 2020, and you can enrol here.


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