Crooked Condorrat credit union boss is sent to prison

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A trusted credit union boss who plundered more than £180,000 by forging friends’ signatures on bogus loan applications and embezzling cash has been jailed for two years.

Anne Costello, 67, hatched a plot to pocket thousands from the Cumbernauld South Credit Union after falling into personal debt.

Costello, of Cumbernauld, used her senior position to make false applications for loans but failed to deposit money into accounts.

Her deception continued for a period of 18 years but it unravelled after she took £77,000 from John Martin, 79, who she met at a mutual friend’s house.

She promised to deposit cash into his account but took it for herself while the widower remained oblivious to her deception. His daughters confronted Costello who admitted it but begged them not to report it.

But police were called in and a probe discovered Costello had also embezzled £39,095, £19,298, £3588.77 and £1232.83 from four others who were all friends.

The fraudster also used forged details of Mr Martin, and two others to apply for bogus loans totalling more than £40,000.

Costello appeared at Airdrie Sheriff Court where she admitted a string of embezzlement and forgery charges between October 1999 and June 2017 totalling £180,718.77.

The court heard she had failed to pay any of the money back and the credit union had make a claim on an insurance policy to reimburse its members.

James Sloan, defending, said: “It was a gross breach of trust from someone who had a good work record in the hospitals as a medical secretary for some 35 years.”

Sheriff Derek O’Carroll said: “Over a period of some 18 years you were involved in criminal behaviour which was carried out against people in distress and people who relied on you.

“A credit union exists to help people of ordinary means and provides an important alternative to expensive insurance and helps people avoid exploitation.

“Instead, you put yourself in a senior position and took advantage of it to help yourself and to exploit the trust placed in you by those in your community

“Despite having taken £180,000 you have repaid nothing and we have heard no satisfactory explanation as to where the money went.

Not guilty pleas to nine charges alleging Costello had embezzled a further £109,215 were accepted by prosecutors.