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Former Vodafone employee convicted of stealing $91,000

Wednesday 1 May 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Court, Crime, National, Technology

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Former Vodafone employee convicted of stealing $91,000

A woman has been convicted of theft as a servant for making false entries in a telecommunications company’s account, defrauding them of over $91,000.

Tekura Davina Areai appeared via an audio-visual link from New Zealand before Chief Justice Patrick Keane at the High Court in Rarotonga on Friday.

Crown Law senior prosecutor Jamie Crawford said the defendant worked at Vodafone Cook Islands since 2018 and was a senior vendor distribution representative, responsible for managing the relationship between Vodafone and the reseller or recharge merchants – individuals who sell Vodafone “top ups” or credit to the public. 

In February 2022, the Vodafone finance team began to prepare for the annual audit and noted a significant variance in the balance of the “Finance System” and the “Recharge Portal”. 

Crawford said investigations revealed that adjustments were being made in the “Recharge Portal”, but were not being reported in the “Finance System”.

She said the adjustments were in relation to transactions involving one reseller merchants’ customer account. 

Crawford said that from April 1, 2020 to March 30, 2022, the defendant was regularly receiving money from a reseller to purchase credit and payments were usually made in cash and provided to the defendant when she visited the reseller, or the reseller would drop off the cash in an envelope to the defendant at work. 

The senior prosecutor said that on some occasions, the reseller deposited the payment directly into the defendant’s personal bank account. The defendant did not provide regular receipts to the reseller, the court heard.

Crawford also said the defendant would not provide the money to Vodafone, nor would she enter the transaction into the “Finance System” but would log into the “Recharge Portal” and manually enter the new credit balance in the reseller’s account. 

“The defendant did this on 110 occasions over that period. She kept the money paid to her by the reseller and used it for personal expenses. The total loss to Vodafone was $91,632, which includes the commission paid to the reseller.” 

Crawford said the defendant admitted to the facts when she was interviewed by police.

Reparation of $91,632 was sought by Vodafone.

CJ Keane ordered a pre-sentence report to be prepared when the defendant returns from New Zealand.

The defendant said that she would be back by the end of May depending on her daughter’s medical condition.

Date for sentencing will be confirmed upon the defendant’s return and when the presentence report is completed.

Areai was represented by defence counsel Mark Short.