Travel agent jailed for selfish Covid act


Heartbroken holiday-makers expected refunds when they had to cancel their plans, but instead this travel agent stole the money and spent it on one thing.

A travel agent has been jailed for stealing $670,000 through her job, including money that should have been returned as refunds when clients had to cancel trips due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

Annette Roberts, 58, was sentenced to two years and eight months prison with 16 months non-parole in the County Court of Victoria on Friday.

She worked for a small travel business in Wangaratta owned by a husband and wife and stole more than half a million from them between April 2018 and May 2020, spending most of the money at the pokies and on online gambling.

The couple had to postpone retirement and sell their two properties to pay back clients in the small community.

“We have to move on and be resilient,” they said in local newspaper the Wangaratta Chronicle.

Judge Michael McInerney slammed the “scourge” of poker machines and the 1991 Kirner government who legalised them in Victoria.

“The court, of course, has had to deal with gambling addictions, no doubt for the whole period of its time, but in particular since 1991,” he said.

He said when Ms Roberts was forced to work from home in lockdown, she turned to an overseas online gambling website and continued feeding her “obsession”.

When she won $113,000 on the site she put it back into more spins, along with all of her own money and the money she stole.

“The house never loses,” he said.

Judge McInerney said Ms Roberts’ family were “incredulous” that her gambling habit had spiralled so deeply.

She transferred business money into her eight personal bank accounts 522 times over more than two years in amounts from $20 to $10,000 and took out fake travel cards in her clients’ names that she loaded with the business’s money 51 times.

She had chronic depression and low self-esteem with a childhood where gambling was normalised, the court was told.

Originally published as Travel agent Annette Roberts jailed for selfish Covid act



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