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Fake VN sentenced for fraud and theft JOEL DUDLEY reports on how a vet in intensive care was scammed by a fake veterinary nurse FRAUDSTER who masqueraded as a VN and took advantage of her employer’s life-threatening illness to repeatedly defraud a practice has received an eight-month sentence, suspended for two years. Emma Louise Harris, 23, was also ordered to complete 180 hours’ community service during sentencing at Liverpool Crown Court on September 14. She had pleaded guilty to defrauding the practice of £1,413 and to fraudulently holding herself out as a VN in an earlier hearing on August 22. Harris gained work at Barn Lodge Veterinary Hospital in Ormskirk, Lancashire, through an agency, claiming to have completed a VN degree and that her RCVS registration was pending. In fact she had been expelled from Harper Adams University College for plagiarism in 2009 and her SVN status had lapsed, according to the RCVS. She worked at the practice from July until September last year and was sacked for unrelated issues, prior to the thefts from the practice credit card account being noticed. Barn Lodge Veterinary Hospital principal Austin Kirwan spoke to VN Times after sentencing about Harris and the circumstances that resulted in her working at the practice and, ultimately, being prosecuted.
Fake VN Emma Harris took advantage of her practice principal being in intensive care to steal money.
Lessons learned Former RCVS councillor Mr Kirwan said: “Emma came to us through a locum agency. She claimed she met all the criteria for the Royal College VN register and her registration
BVNA senior vicepresident Sue Badger: “It is the responsibility of all prospective employers to include a check of an applicant’s status prior to an offer of employment.”
was imminent. After she had been working with us for a short period, I developed a malignant tumour of the tongue and I was admitted to hospital for major surgery. On the day I was admitted she took the first amount of money. Therefore, she had seen an opportunity in the practice where I was away and other members of the practice were distracted. “[When arrested] she claimed I had told her to take this money, but at that time the only way I communicated was in writing as I had a tracheotomy in place, was in intensive care and had no visitors. So that claim didn’t stand up. The thefts did not come to light until she had been dismissed for unrelated issues.” Emphasising the need for practices to check the identity of recruits against passports or other forms of ID, Mr Kirwan added: “My advice is to check the CVs of all candidates on an individual basis and check a candidate’s identity. The locum agency in this case didn’t do this, so my advice is don’t be dependent on a locum agency – do checks yourself.” However, he added: ”You can only do what is humanly possible. There are people who are incredibly convincing but not genuine. We do our own CRB checks on every member of staff, but they take time. Always ask for advice – the support from Lancashire police, the RCVS professional conduct department, my staff, clients and especially my family, through a most difficult period, has restored my confidence in human nature.” continued on page 4
Volume 11 ◆ Number 11 ◆ November 2011
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TRUST FLAVOUR OF MONTH AT BVNA A CORNWALL-based charity that provides volunteers to support elderly and terminally ill people and their pets received a “fantastic response” from delegates at BVNA congress. The Cinammon Trust was BVNA’s chosen charity of 2011. As well as helping owners shop for pet food and clean out and exercise animals, the trust’s volunteers also provide foster homes to look after pets when an owner goes into hospital and take on animals if an owner dies. Marnie Cude, operations manager at the charity, said: “We’ve had a fantastic response at congress – lots of people have put their names down to volunteer and people in general practice who had no idea how we work now want to help, by volunteering or fund-raising. “We’ve realised VNs in practice could be a really helpful resource for us – we really need volunteers, and VNs are exactly the
kind of people we want to come forward.” By close of congress, BVNA had raised £1,967 on behalf of the trust. Ms Cude said the charity was thrilled to be BVNA’s charity of the year. “We are so grateful and impressed by the amount of effort the association has put in to fundraising for us,” she said. Marnie Cude and Kim Roberts from the trust.
More BVNA news on pages 8-9
11,581 VN Times average net circulation Jan-Dec 2010
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Canikur® Pro contains Enterococcus faecium (NCIMB 10415), Montmorillonite and Bio-Mos®-C. Bio-Mos® is a trademark of Alltech, Inc. This is not a product which is subject to authorisation by the Irish Medicines Board. Further information is available from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Bracknell, RG12 8YS, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1344 746959. E-mail: vetmedica.UK@boehringer-ingelheim.com. Date of preparation: August 2011. AHD6813.