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$160,000 ‘fraud’ hits motel hard

Wednesday, 29th June, 2011

 The owners of the Hilltop Motor Inn say they are shocked by the alleged theft of more than $160,000 from the business by a former employee.

 Bruce McDonald said yesterday that he and his wife Tanya were still coming to terms with the alleged theft which has left the couple struggling to pay their bills.

 “It’s put us in a very tough position,” Mr McDonald told the BDT.

 “We owe an awful lot of money to suppliers we thought we were paying.”

 A 27-year-old former employee of the business was yesterday charged with six counts of fraud in relation to the theft. 

 She will appear in the Local Court on August 16 on summons.

 Police will allege the woman transferred takings from various areas of the business into bank accounts, which she then accessed, over a 10-month period.

 Detective Acting Inspector Matt McCarthy said the alleged theft was detected after the owners came across “unidentifiable financial losses” in February and contacted police.

 “This follows a police investigation into the theft of over $160,000 on multiple occasions in the past 10 months,” Det Insp McCarthy said.

 Mr McDonald said it was uncertain if they would see any of the money again.

 “We just don’t know what’s going to happen. Police will try to get it back but we just don’t know.

 “We’ve been very lucky with our suppliers ... they’ve been terrific.

 “We’re hoping other businesses we owe money to see this as a problem we can get through, and give us more time (to pay) than we would normally ask.”

 The McDonalds have owned the Hilltop for the past five-and-a-half years and up until recently also had the lease on the Broken Earth cafe.

 Mr McDonald said business had been slow in recent months and the alleged theft only compounded the issue.

 “We’re all struggling at the moment and we’re no different to anyone else.

 “That money wasn’t profit, that’s money we owe other suppliers around town. It’s been a real blow to our ability to pay bills.”

 Det Act Insp McCarthy told the BDT yesterday that further charges may be laid against the woman .

 “We’re still collating business records,” he said. “It may well be the case that we identify further offences.” 


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