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Paralegal Who Steals $535K from Bosses Jailed


Paul Young, a 38-year-old man from Middleton, the United Kingdom, has been jailed for stealing close to £438,000 ($535,270)  from a law firm he used to work for. The man, who worked as a paralegal at Berrymans Lace Mawer (BLM) fell into bad habits, fueled by his gambling addiction. He was working for £24,500 ($29,941) annually as the father of two and admitted that pressure had gotten the better of him.

Young Fueled Gambling Habit at Expense of Self-Preservation

Young would have been caught much sooner had it not been for his bosses’ trust in him. The man was caught making a payment to the wrong employee on one occasion, but this was dismissed as a clerical error but the higher-ups in the company, which enabled Young to continue stealing but also led him on a path to more serious offenses.

BLM was in charge of the approval process for an insurance company, Aviva, which was accepting personal injury and vehicle damage claims. Part of the job fell on Young who was in direct communication with solicitors who were filing the claims. Young took advantage of the new system used by BLM, Blue Prism, which facilitated the process and disposed of additional supervision, but came with a serious flaw – there was no system to check the authenticity of the bank details against the claimant’s solicitors.

This meant that Young was able to submit the wrong paperwork and get the payments for himself. Prosecutor Henry Blackshaw explained that BLM expected all employees to work with honesty, hence why not a closer monitoring process was put in place. Neither Aviva nor BLM was checking the payments, it seemed. Blackshaw explained that Young must have been perfectly aware that his actions would not remain undisclosed, making his behavior even more bizarre:

“Whilst ultimately Mr Young was bound to be caught out when there was a final reconciliation of the monies received from Aviva on file, he will have known that it would be some time before the fraud was detected.”

However, in November 2018, BLM became aware of a problem of £5,099 that was allocated to the wrong bank account. This time around, there was “no clerical error,” with the higher-ups in the firm aware that something was wrong.

BLM Was Slow to Respond to Initial Suspicions

BLM, though, only issued a warning to Young with the claimant’s account not being checked. Young excused his behavior with a genuine error and brought to his bosses’ attention his struggle with various mental health issues.

While this went down, managers at BLM became aware in June 2019 that Young had indeed abused the new system to line his own pockets. The subsequent investigation shed more light on his involvement in the fraud and the amount of total stolen funds to the tune of £437,598.79.

Overall, Young had misappropriated the funds from 116 payments with the bulk of that going down to gambling websites, and part going down to cover gambling expenses. In delivering his defense, Tom Wainwright, Young’s lawyer, said that his client suffered from a number of health problems, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and struggling with taking care of his family at home.

His partner also had health issues Young had to take care of. A co-defendant was named in the case, one Liam Henry who pled guilty to “effectively laundering the money” for his partner in crime. He was sentenced to two years in jail.

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