High-profile fraud cases committed by New Zealand women

by Donna Chisholm / 09 August, 2017

Rogues’ Gallery

Women appear frequently in media reports about workplace fraud, as this selection of cases shows.


  • May Name suppression lapses for North Canterbury office worker Katrina Leigh Leoni, 42, who earlier admitted stealing $133,000 over two years from Christchurch Ready Mix Concrete Ltd, by channelling money into her own account. The judge warned her she was facing jail.

  • Raglan office administrator Lois Jean Povey, 58, admits pilfering $200,000 from her employer, by creating false invoices and moving money into her own account to fund a gambling addiction.

  • April Jenna Davidson, 31, who defrauded subsequent employers Wellington International Airport and ACC of nearly $80,000 in credit card offending, jailed for two years nine months. Her lawyer said she was in an abusive relationship. The ACC offending came to light when she faked a reference from the ACC as a character reference during her sentencing for the airport case.

  • March Virginia Rose James, 33, pregnant with her fourth child, jailed for two years nine months for stealing $705,000 from her former employer, Taranaki energy company Powerco. She created false invoices to support a $800-a-day pokie addiction.

  • February Ministry of Transport general manager Joanne Harrison, 50, also known as Joanne Sharp, jailed for three years seven months after admitting defrauding the ministry of $726,000 using false invoices from fake entities to direct money into her own accounts.

  • Lynfield College, Auckland, account manager Rhonda Merle Crabb, 65, jailed for two years four months after embezzling nearly $420,000 from the school, spending the money on clothes and travel. She stole the money over seven of her 20 years employed at the school.

  • Lynette Anne Collins-Watson, 59, of Dunedin, received 10 months’ home detention after embezzling more than $114,000 from a non-profit Maori trust where she was chief executive. She disguised money being paid into her account as having been paid to Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

  • Cushla Ann Fevre, 41, former treasurer of Hawera Bizlink, sentenced to 100 hours community work for taking $25,000 from the company by diverting cheques into her own account in 2015 and 2016.

  • Nikau Hohaia, 34, administrator of a small Opunake school, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Tamarongo, jailed for one year 10 months after taking $100,000 over three years by cashing school cheques or using its credit card on shopping trips.



  • November: Auckland International Airport accounts clerk Teremoana Kimiangatau, 54, jailed for three years two months for a $1.8 million fraud. She transferred money from the company’s accounts to her own.
  • October: The long-serving secretary of Parkvale School in Hastings, Tania May McCartney, 40, jailed for two years three months after admitting stealing $170,000 from the school between 2009 and 2016. She used a school credit card for groceries and other purchases and also transferred money into bank accounts.

  • Tania Joy Whiteman, 38, of Rotorua, an accounts and payroll administrator, jailed for two years nine months after admitting stealing about $300,000 from her employers, Pearce Flooring, by paying herself wages she wasn’t entitled to. The proceeds were spent partly on gambling.

  • Former MediaWorks marketing administrator Rebecca Maree Boyce, 28, of Onehunga, Auckland, jailed for three years after obtaining more than $450,000 from the company by misusing credit cards and creating fictitious invoices.

  • August Cambridge woman Karen Claudia Hines, 46, jailed for three years eight months after stealing more than $750,000 from her employer’s clients between 2009 and 2015. She redirected their money into her own accounts 91 times. The company’s name was suppressed.

  • July Rebekah Procter, the former manager of contracts and facilities at Victoria University, jailed for two years five months for a $481,000 fraud. In December her sentence was reduced on appeal to 12 months’ home detention, and 100 hours’ community work. She submitted phony invoices 106 times over two-and-a-half years.

  • May South Canterbury woman Kenisha Lee Puhirere jailed for one year 10 months for stealing more than $180,000 from her employer, Kinsman Contracting, by using the company’s fuel and other cards.

  • March Auckland accounts clerk Victoria Tanoi, 46, jailed for four years eight months, for stealing more than $1 million from her employer, Portacom, to fund a gambling addiction. She’d stolen $100,000 from a previous employer, and been sentenced to 300 hours’ community work.

  • February: Christchurch woman Angela Wendy Paynter, 52, jailed for two years one month after admitting stealing more than $170,000 from her employer, a uniform supply company, during her six years as an accounts manager. She blamed alcohol and gambling problems for diverting bill payments into her own bank account.

  • Financial administrator Susan Dorothy Ford, 56, jailed for three years and seven months in Palmerston North after fraudulently obtaining more than $800,000 to fund an extravagant lifestyle. She paid herself overnight allowances and benefits, added an average of 10 hours extra a week to her own pay and paid wages for an ex-employee into her own account. The company’s name was suppressed.

  • January Christchurch law firm administrator Charmaine Herron, 44, jailed for three years for stealing about $400,000 from her employer. A judge said she was fuelled by greed to fund a lifestyle she couldn’t afford. She falsified 148 payroll entries over nine years.

  • Tessa Fiona Grant, 40, admitted stealing $795,000 from the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls in 2014 and 2015 by forging invoices from a school building project while she was commercial manager. She spent the money on land, a horse and a diamond ring.



  • December Wellington woman Suzanne Marie Davies, 60, jailed for four years six months for stealing $900,000 from her employer, Tawa Plumbing. She was said to have a “spending addiction” and began diverting money because she felt undervalued during her 20 years at the firm.

  • October Hamilton woman Jennifer Ann Taylor, 43, general manager at the NZ Jersey Cattle Breeders Association, jailed for two years seven months after admitting misappropriating $312,000 of company money, spending it on her wedding, home renovations, school fees and debt.

  • July Christine Tiongson, 53, a former manager at Bombay McDonalds in south Auckland, jailed for two years three months after embezzling $166,000 by misusing her authority to refund customers using a swipe card.

  • May Christchurch office manager Gillian Budge jailed for two years eight months after admitting stealing nearly $200,000 by transferring money from Southern Engineering Solutions into two credit cards. The offending involved 60 transactions between 2008 and 2013.

  • February Papamoa Beach woman Dionne Michelle Guinness, 42, jailed for two years six months after admitting stealing $352,698 from Sportcraft Marine, where she was an office worker for nine years.

  • January Gate Pa office administrator and payroll clerk Lesley Hunt, 54, jailed for one year 11 months after stealing more than $146,000 over more than four years at a Tauranga hire company. She used the company Eftpos to pay bond refunds to “clients” into her credit cards between 2010 and 2014.


  • December Tiffany Hewitt, 31, who stole more than $500,000 from an Auckland design firm where she worked for 10 years, jailed for three years. She used company internet accounts to divert money to herself, to fund what the judge called an extravagant lifestyle for her and her husband.

  • Auckland grandmother Lorena Marie Bailey, 58, sentenced to a year’s home detention after gambling away the nearly $200,000 she stole from her employer, Epicurean Dairy Ltd.

  • October Christchurch woman Joanne Christine McGregor, 41, jailed for three years 10 months after admitting stealing $472,000 from Perpetual Trust over more than four years. She said her offending was caused by post-quake trauma.

  • September Queenstown banker Jenna Lee Robinson, 29, jailed for two years seven months after stealing more than $400,000 in her role as a business banking relationship manager. She used the money to pay for a deposit on a house, overseas holidays and home furnishings.

  • August Hamilton bar manager Jane Bridget Hamilton, 37, got nine months home detention and 200 hours community service after fleecing the Riv and Still Working bars of $90,000 over three years. She was eight months’ pregnant when sentenced.

  • July Mainfreight credit controller Sushila Devi Mosese, 51, of Auckland, jailed for four years six months after admitting stealing nearly $4.5 million from the company. Over seven of her 20 years with the firm, she deposited cheques for invoice payments into an account that had a similar name to a company subsidiary. She had prior convictions for stealing from an employer in Fiji.

  • Auckland Flight Centre employee Dina Kais Jan, 30, got five months’ home detention after taking more than $117,000 of the company’s money by diverting the money into a MasterCard cash passport in her boyfriend’s name and other accounts.

  • June Accountant Eseta Apineru, 36, sentenced to 300 hours community service for stealing nearly $25,000 from Auckland Council by manipulating its financial system to move money into her own account.

  • May Christchurch clerk Kelly Jane Mackley, 28, jailed for two years four months after stealing $173,000 from Anglo Pacific International. She spent the money on food, online shopping and travel. She wrote out 85 company cheques over 11 months in 2013.

  • South Auckland principal Colleen Margaret Gray, 66, and her husband Bruce Kenneth Gray, admitted defrauding a decile one primary school of more than $30,000. Colleen Gray received a year of home detention and 150 hours community service; her husband 10 months.

  • The Employment Relations Authority ordered south Auckland medical centre practice manager Bernadine Hull to repay the $100,000 in cash and cheques she stole over six years from 2007. She was not criminally prosecuted.

  • March Christchurch office worker Tina Emma Esau, 31, jailed for four years three months for taking $1.14 million from the company she worked for, by transferring money from the company trust account into her own. The company’s name was suppressed.

This was published in the July 2017 issue of North & South.


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