A London-based dental nurse has been struck off by the UK's General Dental Council (GDC) following a public hearing into a criminal conviction against her.
The allegations against Linda Alyson Fernandes were heard by the GDC's Professional Conduct Committee. The charge she faced was that on or about August 14, 2012, she was convicted of six counts of fraud by false representation, contrary to sections 1 and 2 of the Fraud Act 2006.
Details of the court case revealed that between January and May 2012, Ms Fernandes used a spare set of keys for the Aqua Dental Spa in Manchester Square, London, to enter the premises without authorisation in order to use a credit card machine to transfer money from the practice's account to her own personal account. Through this and other methods, she fraudulently obtained money from the practice totalling a sum of at least GBP 3382.00.
This case highlights the importance of protecting the refund password for credit card machines within any business and particularly dental practices. If the refund password is known, it is a simple matter to "refund" money from the practice's bank account onto any credit card, regardless of whether or not the card has ever been used to make a purchase.
Protecting the refund password together with careful oversight of all credit card transaction documentation including batch reports and bank account deposits will significantly reduce the risk of a fraud occuring.
In making its decision to deregister the dental nurse, the Committee noted that: "The fraud Ms Fernandes committed breached one of the fundamental tenets of the profession. It is of paramount importance that all registered dental professionals are trustworthy in order to maintain the public's confidence in the profession as a whole. Her dishonest conduct was deliberate and it occurred on several occasions over a sustained period of time. The Committee noted the sophistication of her methods and considered the high level of premeditation that must have been required for her to carry out the crimes. This included retaining a set of keys that should not have been in her possession, entering into the practice 'out of hours' and designing methods for transferring money which were not immediately detectable".