Casino fraudster’s $2 million life of luxury is laid bare

  • New Zealand former casino employee appears in court for fraud amounting to nearly $2 million
  • Funds, stolen from SkyCity Casino used to fund a luxury lifestyle and wedding

The excess and decadence of former casino employee, Tessa Grant’s lifestyle has been revealed in detail in court this week. It’s not the sums she spent that prompted her appearance in the dock in New Zealand however, but the source of her millions.

new zealand casino fraud

The 41-year-old is reported to have performed 71 fraudulent transactions between December of 2008 and April 2012, totalling some $1,980,000.

Finance manager for SkyCity Casino

The scam started when the New Zealander took on the role of finance manager for SkyCity casino. It is alleged that, deciding that her $125,000 salary wasn’t enough, Grant then began helping herself to the large amounts of petty cash that were lying around in what was known as “the cage”.

Between March and April 2013, the woman is reported to have made three cash withdrawals from the cashier desk amounting to $184,000 using fake invoices from Hawkins Construction, a genuine company which had been performing building work at the casino.

The finance manager then set about banking cheques that were intended for company business. Towards the end of her tenure, Grant was promoted to general manager, enjoying a salary increase to $189,000 per year.

Funding a luxury lifestyle

Using her ill-gotten gains, the casino manager allegedly blew $200,000 on a horse truck and tens of thousands more on landscaping her dream home. To celebrate her nuptials in 2010, the 41-year-old spent $5,000 on a wedding singer alone. As the woman’s spending got more brazen, the extent of her fraud increased exponentially. Soon she was sending funds from SkyCity’s account directly, including $82,500 used to purchase a horse.

Even after she left SkyCity and found work as a commercial manager for Waikato Diocesan School for Girls, Walker’s fraud spree didn’t end; she went on to steal another $795,000 between December 2014 and August 2015. In January 2016, after the offences had came to light, Grant pled guilty. She is now due to be sentenced at Hamilton District Court in September.

The summary of Grant’s actions which was read out in court laid some of the blame at the door of the casino, noting: “It is clear that she was able to take advantage of poor practice by other SkyCity senior managers.”

The rise and fall of the former Skycity finance manager serves as a warning to casinos that there’s more than one way to cheat the house. While managers are naturally concerned with what’s happening on the casino floor, they would do well to consider what’s going on behind the scenes, where some of the most audacious heists of all time have been quietly orchestrated.

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