Nurse spent $36k on patients’ credit cards
A nurse at a Sydney day surgery went on a $36,000 shopping spree with credit cards nicked from unconscious patients then successfully tricked police into closing the investigation into her.
Saeeda Kauser ordered $330 of essential oils to her Forestville home, signed up for her local F45 gym and tried to enrol in a $3135 life coaching program among 78 fraudulent purchases and attempted purchases in early 2018.
A NSW tribunal on Monday found the 32-year-old guilty of professional misconduct and banned her from practising as a nurse until late 2022 for the offending against three patients.
Her calculated behaviour was carried out "in a full understanding of what she was aiming to achieve", the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal said.
"While the tribunal accepts (Kauser) might well suffer from some form of depression, it does not accept that this excuses her behaviour," it said.
"Her behaviour was particularly offensive in that she was dealing with vulnerable patients who were undergoing surgery, the acts being perpetrated while the patients were unconscious and she showed a remarkable lack of understanding of the harm that she was doing to others." Kauser, who pleaded guilty to and was convicted of fraud, admitted the misconduct charges and removed herself from the nursing register before the tribunal's decision.
In the most brazen episode, the then-nursing director at Sydney Skin and Vein Clinic stole a patient's card while the woman was being operated on in the Chatswood surgery.
Starting with a Thai restaurant in the same building, she made 55 purchases totalling $23,272 within a fortnight.
When the woman reported the theft to the clinic, Kauser rang back and asked specific details about what she'd told police.
Armed with that information, the nurse called police, pretended to be the patient and made up a story about her stepson being responsible. She promised to "punish him accordingly".
Her request that the case be closed was accepted.
A second call to Westpac's fraud hotline ended after Kauser failed to properly verify her identity.
The patient found out the case was closed when she called police the next day. Conducting her own investigation, the woman uncovered Kauser's name attached to a $337 order for essential oils and learned there was at least one other victim.
Another patient had $230 in cash and her credit card details stolen while she was in the bathroom before surgery. The details were used to make successful and unsuccessful purchases totalling $12,126 within a week.
The attempt to buy life coaching sessions was made with a card stolen when a third patient was in surgery.
Kauser denied the fraud to her employer and at a NSW Nursing and Midwifery Council hearing in April 2018, but came clean before court later that year. In November 2018, she was convicted of three fraud charges for dishonestly obtaining property worth $36,300 and trying to obtain the life coaching sessions.
Kauser told NCAT she no longer wanted to be a nurse and the matter had "been a very big wakeup call".
"I am doing my best to rebuild my life from what I have left," she said.
Originally published as Nurse spent $36k on patients' credit cards