Glasgow & West Scotland

Worker 'almost passed out' after £200k email scam

Peebles Media Image copyright Google
Image caption Glasgow firm Peebles Media has brought the action against a former employee

A woman who is being sued for sending £200,000 of her employer's cash to an online fraudster said she "almost passed out" after learning of the scam.

Patricia Reilly, who has since been sacked from Peebles Media Group, said she panicked while driving to work to speak to police.

She then had to see a doctor as she gave her evidence.

The Court of Session was told that an online scammer posed as Mrs Reilly's boss via email in October 2015.

'I was prescribed Diazepam'

The scammer pretended to be Peebles Media Group managing director Yvonne Bremner and emailed Mrs Reilly to ask her to make a number of payments to an unknown company.

It is alleged Mrs Reilly, of Bishopbriggs, Dunbartonshire, ignored a warning from bankers about con artists tricking employees into making payments to companies.

She told the court that she felt ill coming into work the day after hearing about the scam, knowing police officers could be waiting to speak to her.

She said: "That night was just terrible. I couldn't sleep. I had all these thoughts going around my head.

"I was driving to work the following morning and I started to panic. I had to stop the car and I almost passed out. I had to go to the doctors and I was prescribed Diazepam."

Mrs Reilly was giving evidence on the third day of proceedings at Scotland's highest civil court in Edinburgh.

The court has heard that Mrs Reilly handed over a total of £193,250 of the company's money to fraudsters after they emailed her on 9 October.

Suspicions were raised a few days later when colleague Rosemary Morris logged onto the firm's online bank account and noticed a fraud warning.

She showed Mrs Reilly and contacted Mrs Bremner who was on holiday in Tenerife.

'Major understatement'

Later in the evening, Ms Morris phoned Mrs Reilly to tell her that the company has been defrauded.

During the phone call, Mrs Reilly heard of Mrs Bremner's reaction to the news.

She told the court: "I was also told that to say I wasn't flavour of the month was a major understatement."

It comes after Ms Bremner told the court at a previous hearing that she did not trust Mrs Reilly and claimed she was the "office gossip".

The court heard that Mrs Reilly was eventually dismissed from the firm for her actions.

Bankers refunded the firm £85,268.28 and Peebles is suing the former employee for the remaining sum of £107,984.

Lawyers acting for the company accuse Mrs Reilly of being negligent.

They have described her actions as "careless and in breach of the duties - including the duty to exercise reasonable care in the course of the performance of her duties as an employee which she owed to her employer, the pursuer."

Peebles also claims that if Mrs Reilly had performed her duties properly, Mrs Bremner would not have suffered "the loss, injury and damage". The firm has claimed that she should have realised the emails were suspicious.

However, Mrs Reilly's legal team have said that she did not receive any training on how to spot online fraud and have called for the case to be dismissed.

The hearing continues.

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