A 54-year-old woman stole more than £525,000 from her employer, law firm Easthams, to pay a scammer who reeled her in through an online dating website.
Pamela Wareing has been jailed for 32 months after pleading guilty to theft in Preston Crown Court.
She stole the money to pay a scammer who she had never met, a man purporting to be a US Army Major called Eric Lopez who needed large sums of money to be released from a security contract in Dubai.
At one point, she flew to Dubai to meet Mr Lopez and was instead met by a man dressed as a sheikh, purporting to be his associate. She handed over a five-figure sum and continued to send over £150,000 of her own money.
She was advised by police that she may have fallen victim to a fraud, but continued to send money. When her personal finances ran dry, she took a total of £526,473 from her employer.
Det Con Mark Riley of Lancashire Police said: “Easthams trusted Wareing and she was held in high regard, but her thoughtless actions were to leave the company in a potentially perilous financial position close to Christmas.
“I have spoken with John Bower and Debra Hepplestall, who are the senior partners at Easthams. They are still concerned about the impact Wareing’s actions may have. I can state that there is no blame associated with the firm.
“This investigation demonstrates the dangers of online dating and the potential there is to become a victim of fraud.”