Crooked Scots insurance worker embezzled £13,000 ‘to recover child’ from care

A rogue claims handler embezzled more than £13,000 into her own bank accounts while working for insurance giant Aviva.

Joy Pumayi has claimed she needed to embezzle the money to pay legal fees after being locked in a battle to win her child back from care from local authorities.

Pumayi changed customer account bank details to route the money to two bank accounts and helped herself to £13,017.03 in less than a year.

The 28-year-old admitted that between January 4 and August 4, 2017, while employed as a domestic call manager for Aviva in Perth, she embezzled £13,017.03.

Pumayi, of Bridge of Allan, initially signed amounts up to the £2,500 limit she was entitled to clear on her own.

However, when she attempted to escalate the scam by diverting a payment of over £7,000 to herself, it raised suspicion and an investigation was launched.

At Perth Sheriff Court, Pumayi – who has since been sacked for gross misconduct – was ordered to perform 175 hours of unpaid community work.

The court heard that Pumayi, who won his legal custody battle, had since refunded the Perth-based insurance company in full.

Tax MP Elizabeth Hodgson said: “At the time she was employed by Aviva as a household claims handler but has since been made redundant.

“She was responsible for negotiating the settlement of claims. She had a limit of £2,500 and could approve any amount up to that limit herself.”

She told the court Pumayi first committed the scam when she embezzled £660 which was to be paid for a chest of drawers damaged by the floods.

Pumayi then increased the amounts she was paying herself, with the next two being just under the £2,500 limit, which meant she could do so without the approval of her colleagues.

However, in June 2017 she attempted to claim over £7,400 in relation to an unpaid bill for a genuine claim and scammed a colleague into approving payment.

The money went straight to Pumayi’s bank account, but colleagues became suspicious of his behavior and an internal investigation was launched. When the case was referred to the police, she admitted what she had done.

Defense barrister Linda Clark said: “Clearly she is embarrassed and remorseful about all of this. There have already been proceedings regarding the removal of her son.

“She was not entitled to benefits when she engaged the services of solicitors. This left her with unpaid legal costs of £15-16,000.”

Ms Clark said Pumayi borrowed money from lenders with “exorbitant” interest rates and ended up with debts she stole to try and pay off.

Sheriff Richard MacFarlane noted that Pumayi had since lost “three or four jobs” following exposure of his embezzlement in the financial sector.

“It bothers me that each payment gets bigger over time,” he said.

“You told the social worker that you were constantly worried about getting caught.

“But that didn’t deter you from continuing. You showed remorse, but I still worry about the quality of remorse someone shows after being caught.”

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