AN INSURANCE company's 'employee of the year' who swindled £280,000 out of the firm has been jailed.
Trusted Ben House added fake cars to multiple-vehicle crash claims in his job as a motor claims negotiator at Ageas Insurance in Port Solent.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard the 31-year-old had got into gambling debts so set up the false details on claims, paying out up to £4,000 at a time under his own authority.
House also used his line manager's log-in details to authorise payments of more than £4,000.
Matthew Jewell, prosecuting, told how House made 42 transactions in 24 claims over a period of three months.
House, of Eastfield Road, Southsea, was only found out when he came into work on a Saturday, despite being signed off work, and made £41,000 worth of transactions in an hour.
The court heard he had gone in that Saturday, November 19 last year, as he lost around £40,000 on online roulette and needed the cash for a house deposit.
But an investigation was sparked when a worker found the payments, under House's line managers name, and the fraud was eventually tracked down to House.
Mr Jewell told the court: 'He would identify on the claim system claims which had multiple vehicles involved.
'And when such a claim was identified he would add further, false, vehicles to the claim providing details for that vehicle registration, a number of fictitious names of purported owners and would then process the claim, doing so by submitting fake documents, often genuine documents that had been doctored or amended to include details of the fraudulent claim, and then process that part of the claim as if it were genuine.'
When House was arrested he immediately paid back £48,119.99.
Sentencing him to three years and four months, Recorder Michael Vere-Hodge QC said: 'It's difficult to understand what went wrong.
'It may well be gambling and it may well be that's right but gambling or not the fact it was, you knew the system, you manipulated the system and for your own addiction, you were able to get £286,364, which is the grand total.
'You may not have realised at the time quite how the sums were mounting up.
'They are in anybody's judgement significant amounts of money, and the effect on others has been considerable in this case.'
He added: 'You are intelligent enough to have called a halt to all of this before it reached the point that it did.'
The court heard auditors were brought in and a report made to the Financial Conduct Authority after House's fraud was revealed.
Bridget O'Hagan, defending, told how House was gambling up to £20,000 in one go online.
She said: 'These were actions of complete and utter desperation.'
House admitted fraud between August 18, 2016, and November 19, 2016 at the first opportunity.
He asked for another offence of fraud, between January 2010 and May 2010, to be taken into consideration when he was sentenced.