Thomas Cook employee jailed for £60k credit card frauds

A Thomas Cook business assistant was jailed for nearly five years for duping the travel firm and a previous employer out of more than £60,000.

Angelika Schell, 54, treated herself to lunches, flights abroad, and taxis rides to work with her Thomas Cook company credit card.

She stole £37,000 over two years, and tried to bully a colleague into dropping the charges against her when she was finally caught out, the London Evening Standard reported.

The Old Bailey heard that German-born Schell was spared prison in October 2014 for stealing £26,000 from previous employers, green energy firm the Brook Henderson Group, where she was PA to the chief executive.

But she hid this conviction from Thomas Cook and seamlessly moved on to her next scam, even abusing the company credit card to pay off £1,300 of court fines.

She was given the card while working at Thomas Cook’s City of London headquarters, spending £30,957 on shopping sprees and trips to the hairdresser, £3,363 on taxis, more than £2,000 on a colleague’s credit card, and £833 on flights to Germany.

Recorder Bruce Houlder QC jailed her for three years and three months for the Thomas Cook fraud and an extra 18 months for breaching her suspended sentence for the previous scam.

“You had no justification to commit these offences, you committed them through greed and you cared little for those from whom you stole,” he said.

“The fraud was persistent, continuing over two years, and committed in quite a deliberate breach of a suspended sentence.”

Prosecutor Claire Harden-Frost told the court Schell, of Crouch Hill, London, also sent a threatening email to the colleague whose credit card she had used, demanding that he withdraw his support for the prosecution.

“She was employed by Thomas Cook as a business assistant at headquarters, and applied for and was given a company credit card,” said the prosecutor.

“They found essentially it had been used for personal expenses.

“Most shockingly, these expenses included payment of court fines to Her Majesty’s Courts Service for payment of fines from the previous case.

“She used taxis almost daily to and from work, effectively charged to the company.”

Neil Baki, defending, said Schell had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past and has recently found a lump believed to be another malignant tumour.

He said she flew back to Germany to be with her sick 80-year-old mother, but has struggled to explain why she committed the fraud.

“She doesn’t know why she did it, she can’t explain why she behaved in this odd way,” he said.

Schell pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position. A charge of witness intimidation was left to lie on file.

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