She seemed like the perfect applicant - a big smile, strong CV, good interview technique and glowing references.

But Caroline Farani is accused of stealing more than $100,000 from her employer in five months - and giving herself a $6000 pay rise on her first day at work.

The 30-year-old, from Petone, Wellington, is alleged to have used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included overseas travel and high-tech gadgets.

Her employer believes she faked the CV to get the job and may have used herself as a bogus referee, and has five other identities.

The saga began last July when Farani was hired by Wellington company Buckett Law as an office administrator.

The company alleges she stole $106,509 in more than 100 incidents of theft, fraud and forgery before being suspended in December, and has complained to police.

Farani, who is believed to be living in Sydney, wrote in an email: "I acted alone and I will have to live with this shame alone."

Maggie Roe-Shaw, director of IntegrityWorks, a division of Buckett Law, alleged Farani used company money to buy a flight to Sydney, hotel stays, an Apple iPad, a $2000 camera, alcohol, DVDs, cinema tickets, luggage and clothes.

She also spent $120 on 45 chocolate-covered strawberries, the company said. "Of course these payments were disguised through the books, and regrettably the book-keeping business did not notice these passing through the system," said Roe-Shaw.

Buckett Law distributed a flyer using Farani's photograph to warn other Petone businesses.

They also held a seminar for the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce last month to highlight the dangers of rogue employees and spent $10,000 to uncover the extent of Farani's alleged offending.

Since then at least one other employer has come forward to say they complained to police about Farani.

In May last year she started work as a secretary to Ben Stockbridge, principal at Wellington accountancy firm Long & Cowan. "She was really confident, very outgoing and interviewed really well," said Stockbridge.

He said that in July Farani asked for time off to visit her sick father in Auckland - but was actually starting her new job at Buckett Law. Stockbridge said he later noticed Farani had signed a cheque to herself worth $260 from a client's bank account.

Long & Cowan complained to police but because the money was repaid quickly it was not followed up.

Stockbridge said he believed Farani had used herself as a referee, giving an alternative phone number.

After leaving a note on her computer at Long & Cowan saying "I Quit", she forged a letter on a Buckett Law letterhead demanding they pay her four weeks' salary, Stockbridge alleged.

In an email, Farani, calling herself To'a, said her family was heartbroken by the publicity about her alleged offending. Farani's sister, Serena, works for New Zealand Police and her brother, Daniel, plays league for Samoa and French second-division side Albi.

She wrote: "I am absolutely mortified it has come to this. My family have been put through the [w]ringer with what has happened.

"The flyers were enough for my family to never speak to me again. I left New Zealand because of my disgrace. I acted alone and I will have to live with this shame alone."

She said she didn't think it was "fair" that Buckett Law had put up the flyers: "What's done is done and I am never to return home to New Zealand."

Wellington Police Detective Sergeant Michael Priston said a complaint had been received from Buckett Law in January.

So far no charges have been laid.

Farani is understood to be staying with her sister.


According to Maggie Roe-Shaw of Buckett Law, Caroline Farani stole from the company in a variety of ways. As well as using a company credit card to buy goods, she is accused of:

* Using fake purchase orders, forged signatures and falsified names to open online shopping accounts

* Forging her boss' signature on cheques and diverting client funds to her own bank account

* Ordering a taxi charge card and getting taxis to and from work

* Posing as her boss at a Westpac Bank to gain access to online accounts.

* Roe-Shaw alleged that even after being suspended Farani got back into the office and paid herself for January.

- additional reporting Bevan Hurley