- Lisa Burrows, a CPS area manager, and her cabbie boyfriend Tahir Mahmood 'operated as a team' throughout five year scam
- They raked in 4,000 a week lodging claims for bogus taxi journeys
- Spent proceeds on luxury holidays to Dubai and New York and designer handbags, clothing and jewellery
- Investigators say 660,000 of stolen public funds is still missing
- Pair both jailed for six years at Birmingham Crown Court today
- CPS says Burrows 'abused a position of trust'
By Steve Robson
A civil servant and her taxi driver boyfriend spent five years defrauding the Crown Prosecution Service of 1million by claiming money for bogus taxi journeys.
Lisa Burrows, a CPS area manager in the West Midlands, and Tahir Mahmood 'operated as a team' to commit the 'colossal' expenses fraud, Birmingham Crown Court heard.
The pair raked in up to 4,000 a week and spent the proceeds on luxury holidays to Dubai and New York, as well as splashing out on designer handbags, clothing and jewellery.
They were both jailed for six years today.
Team: Lisa Burrows, an area manager with the Crown Prosecution Service, left, operated a 1million fraud over five years with her tax-driver boyfriend Tahir Mahmoo, right. They have both been jailed for six years
Detailed investigations into the fraud, which went unnoticed despite four annual audits, have failed to trace more than 660,000 of stolen public funds.
But inquiries conducted by financial investigators did establish that Burrows, who earned 24,000 as a regional finance manager, was able to spend almost 250,000 on her Marks & Spencer credit card during the fraud.
Burrows, 42, of Oldbury, West Midlands, and Mahmood, 50, of Hodge Hill, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud shortly after their arrest in February this year.
Opening the facts of the case, prosecutor Brian Dean said Burrows, who worked at CPS offices in Birmingham, began the fraud in 2008 shortly after meeting Mahmood.
Burrows, who later got the taxi driver a job as an apprentice with the CPS, submitted bogus invoices for a total of 1,021,475 between early 2008 and February 2013.
Mahmoood, who 'held the purse strings' in the fraud, set up a bank account in a false name to receive payments to a fictitious taxi firm.
Mr Dean told the court: 'Burrows identified that the CPS spent considerable sums on the provision of taxis.
'She then decided, along with Mr Mahmood, to exploit that by making false claims for non-existent journeys.
'Mahmood played a full and significant role in the conspiracy in the initial planning of the fraud and by ensuring that they could get their hands on the money in cash form by setting up bank accounts in false names.
Finance manager Lisa Burrows and her colleague both worked at CPS West Midlands
'He withdrew nearly 1 million in cash over five years, most of which is still unaccounted for.'
Mahmood, dressed in a casual suit, and Burrows, wearing a dark jacket, showed no emotion as the court heard how they handed over 8,000 of public money to pay for a single visit to a New York hotel.
Cash from the fraud was also spent on a stay at Dubai's landmark Jumeirah Beach Hotel and funded purchases from high-end shops including Bloomingdale's.
After their arrest, the fraudsters admitted that the name of their fictitious cab firm, B&M Taxis, stood for Burrows and Mahmood.
Mahmood told police he had used 20,000 as a deposit to buy a house and had holidayed in Spain and Dubai, once spending 10,000 during a week away.
Meanwhile, Burrows, who worked for the CPS for more than 20 years, told detectives she had given Mahmood legitimate taxi work after meeting him in an internet chatroom.
She claimed her lover had then suggested the fraud, which 'escalated' as she treated herself to designer items made by Abercrombie and Fitch, Prada and Tiffany.
Passing sentence, Judge William Davis QC described the planned and persistent fraud as a gross abuse of a position of trust.
Lisa Burrows and Tahir Mahmood were both jailed for six years at Birmingham Crown Court today
The judge said: 'It is difficult to imagine a more serious fraud of its type.
'It was you, Burrows, who created and then authorised the payment of the bogus invoices. You knew how the system worked.
'Over the course of five years you, Burrows, paid into your bank account over 320,000 in cash, all of which must have been the proceeds of the fraud.
'That money went on high living - expensive holidays in Dubai and New York, designer clothing, jewellery. What happened to the rest of the money - some 664,000 - is not known save that it was you, Mahmood, who withdrew the money in cash.
'The fact that the fraud involved the CPS and was committed by a senior member of that service - the body responsible for bringing criminals to justice - will have affected and eroded public confidence.'
Luxury: The couple took holidays to laces such as Dubai with the proceeds of their fraud
The only mitigating feature in the case, Judge Davis added, was the defendants' previous good character.
Detectives were called in by the CPS in February this year after an internal audit uncovered the bogus claims.
Mahmood was then found to have changed his name by deed poll to open a bank account critical to the fraud.
Spoils: Burrows and Mahmood also visited New York with their stolen money
Commenting after the case, Detective Constable Mark Calvert, who led the inquiry, said: 'What we uncovered was a prolonged and systematic fraud by two people who ironically were employed by an organisation which prosecutes those who break the law.
'They naively thought they'd get away with it, but were caught as a result of their own greed.'
Financial investigators are still working to try to trace the proceeds of the fraud with a view to returning it to the CPS, the officer added.
The court heard Burrows was authorised to submit invoices for up to 25,000 without recourse to a more senior manager.
Mahmood only worked for the CPS during the last five months of the fraud after being interviewed by Burrows, who did not inform colleagues they were in a relationship.
In a statement, the CPS said: 'This fraud was carried out by a member of staff with significant financial authority who abused a position of trust.
'Investigations are being finalised, however an independent external audit provides strong assurances that this was an isolated case.
'Indeed, no further fraudulent activity has been identified. Nevertheless, the CPS has strengthened its financial controls and procedures across the organisation in order to prevent, as far as is possible, any fraudulent activity in the future.'