A woman who defrauded a junior school of over £100k has been ordered to pay back almost £75,000. 

Joanne Anderson, from Sunderland, had previously been handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to fraud by false representation in 2023.

Between 2017 and 2021, the 52-year-old forged the signatures of senior staff on at least 409 cheques, which were made payable to herself.

Anderson, who lives in Summerhill, East Herrington, had worked at Fulwell Junior School, in Sunderland, for around 20 years and was responsible for managing the financial budget.

However, an auditor noticed a discrepancy in the transactions and officers from Northumbria Police began an investigation.

Following her sentencing, financial investigators began compiling records of Anderson’s earnings from crime and her current assets.

On Friday, February 16, she appeared at Newcastle Crown Court where a judge granted a confiscation order to retrieve money taken through fraudulent activity.

At the hearing, a confiscation order was granted to the sum of £41,475. An amount of £33,315.00 has already been recovered from Anderson’s pension.

Praising the efforts of the Force’s financial investigators, Detective Inspector Phil Thoburn of Northumbria Police said: “This is a good result for us and the school after what has been a difficult time for staff and children.

“In this case, Anderson took advantage of being a trusted member of staff and defrauded her employer out of almost £120,000.

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“However, she now has a criminal record, is serving a suspended sentence, and thanks to the Proceeds of Crime Act, will pay back a significant amount of her ill-gotten gains.

“The community which the school serves deserves to see action like this being taken.

“The full amount of the order will be returned to Fulwell Junior School and will hopefully go a long way to repairing the damage caused.”