Gambling Grandmother Jailed After Embezzling More Than $1.8M

Posted on: September 29, 2023, 08:31h. 

Last updated on: October 7, 2023, 01:00h.

Coleen Muirhead, a 55-year-old grandmother with a penchant for gambling, was sentenced to three years in prison this week. Muirhead embezzled £1.5 million (US$1.83 million) from her employer, a metals recycling company in Scotland, in 2014, according to a report by the BBC.

The High Court in Edinburgh, Scotland
The High Court in Edinburgh, Scotland. A grandmother who embezzled almost $2 million from her employer was sentenced to more than three years by the High Court this week. (Image: Alamy)

Muirhead had no criminal record; however, shortly after starting her new job at Panda Rosa Metals. Muirhead developed an elaborate plan to pull off the scheme and embezzle from the company.

When scrap metal arrived at either of the company’s two properties, it was weighed to calculate the value, and the client was given a receipt with that value. The client would then create an invoice with the data and send it to the company to arrange the payment transfer.

She created a fake client named “G Anderson” and then created false invoices under the name. Once they were delivered to Panda Rosa, a representative made the payments without question.

It wasn’t until a senior company executive formally reviewed Panda Rosa’s accounting that the discrepancies were uncovered.

Following a Paper Trail

When company officials looked into internal operations, a paper trail led back to Muirhead. When the company contacted her for an explanation, she confessed to the crimes.

Panda Rosa then filed a complaint, and the police seared Muirhead’s home. They found multiple receipts showing big-ticket purchases, such as two mobile homes, motorcycles, and more. They also found bank slips showing the accounts Muirhead and Anderson used were the same.

Muirhead allegedly also used the stolen funds for expensive trips, cars, and her son’s lavish wedding.

Claiming the Pity Defense

After filing charges, the case made its way to court last month. Her lawyer tried a “pity” defense but didn’t keep Muirhead out of prison.

The lawyer argued that his client had a “traumatic” childhood that eventually led her to develop a gambling habit and to start drinking heavily. It didn’t entirely sway the judge, who accused Muirhead of showing “no regard” for how the crimes would impact her employers.

She faced a sentence of up to five years in prison.