Manager who stole nearly £1m from firm splashed money on £39k Halloween party, luxury cars and Carribbean holiday

25 August 2023, 09:13 | Updated: 25 August 2023, 09:30

Emma Hunt was convicted of fraud, embezzlement and money laundering.
Emma Hunt was convicted of fraud, embezzlement and money laundering. Picture: Alamy/Scotland Police

By Jenny Medlicott

A property firm office manager who embezzled more than £900,000 to fund a luxury lifestyle has been jailed for three years.

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Emma Hunt, 37, from Coldstream in Scotland stole more than £900,000 from the property firm she worked at in Edinburgh to fund parties, hospitality and holidays.

Hunt embezzled the funds between May 2016 and January 2019 by taking deposits from tenants that were not needed and also by diverting rent payments to her own bank account.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court found her guilty of fraud, embezzlement and money laundering while at McLean Properties.

The court heard how Hunt paid out £39,000 to throw a Halloween party at Fenton Tower, a fortified 16th century castle, in East Lothian with 80 friends.

She also spent thousands on cars, day trips to events such as Six Nations rugby matches, Scottish Open golf tournaments, and Musselburgh and Ayr races.

She paid £19,500 for a new Audi S1 Quattro and then later traded it in for BMW M2 - which cost an additional £35,000 on top of the trade.

Hunt forked out £6,360 on hospitality for Ladies Day at Musselburgh Racecourse in 2017, and then again £6,600 in 2018.

She splashed out an additional £7,180 at Murrayfield Stadium on hospitality packages for 10 people at the Scotland v Enland Six Nations game.

Prosecutors also told the courts how she spent at least £23,219 on a number of top hotels around Edinburgh over the three years.

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Fenton Tower, where the Halloween party was held.
Fenton Tower, where the Halloween party was held. Picture: Alamy

Hunt told friends that she had a successful cleaning business that funded her luxurious lifestyle - although in reality she received a salary of £1,800 a month.

Prosecutors said she also created false invoices for “supplies” and “business expenses” which were paid into her personal accounts.

Hunt was finally caught out after a tenant contacted the property firm to say they’d been asked to change the account they made rent payments to.

The 37-year-old denied the offences before she went on trial at court.

A source said: “Hunt is a fantasist but she is also very clever. The way she was able to keep this fraud from being discovered for such a long time shows she knew what she was doing.'

She will be the subject of proceedings for a confiscation order under proceeds of crime legislation.

Lynne Barrie, procurator fiscal for Lothian and Borders, said: "Fraud and embezzlement are not victimless crimes.

"This was a brazen example of targeting a business and its customers.

"Financial crime cases can be complex, but the evidence presented during the trial made the criminal activity clear."

Police Scotland's Det Sgt Drummond Fyall said: “She clearly believed that her criminality would go undetected.

“However, following our investigation, she now faces the consequences of her actions.”

She was convicted of embezzling £899,164.77 between 2016 and 2019.

She also received a further conviction of pretending to 11 renters that they had to pay deposits for flats when no sums were due, obtaining £7,295 by fraud.

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