A trusted law firm employee conned into transferring money to a purported American soldier has been banned from the legal profession.
Pamela Wareing had been with Blackpool firm Easthams Solicitors for more than 20 years but stole more than £526,000 over the space of six weeks last year.
The money, split almost equally between client account and office account funds, was paid to a purported soldier in the United States army with whom Wareing had been in correspondence. It was later established that Wareing had been the victim of a fraud and the money ended up in Nigeria via Dubai.
Wareing, also known as Pamela Shuffleton and Pamela McGough, was a cashier and compliance officer for finance and administration. She was dismissed on 20 December after police made the firm aware what had happened.
All clients funds were replaced within a day of the theft being reported, with the firm securing 34 jobs. A subsequent SRA investigation cleared the firm itself of any wrongdoing and no client has suffered any loss.
John Bower, director of the firm, explained the thefts began on 4 November, the day after accountants had left the office having completed end of year accounts. A second cashier was on leave and Bower himself was in hospital after emergency surgery.
He added: ‘We became aware of the thefts on December 20 when the police attended the office and arrested her. We notified the SRA that day, our accountants established the amount of the theft by close of business on 21 December and my co-director Debra Hepplestall and myself made good the shortfall on client account that evening.’
According to an SRA notice published today, Wareing attempted to cover up her actions by making false postings in relation to a probate matter.
She pleaded guilty in March to stealing the money from the firm and is due to be sentenced next month. She has admitted to the SRA that she sought to conceal her actions and that her conduct was dishonest.
The regulator made her subject to a section 43 order, preventing her from working for any regulated firm without SRA permission.