General English Level 5 V 3
UNIT 04 Crime and punishment TOPIC 01 A near-perfect crime
Reading READING 02 She almost got away with it
Here is a newspaper report about Janis Steadman, the woman who stole $8 million - using her computer.

Janis lived the lie of a double life

How was Janis Steadman able to get away with her amazing double life for so long? Not even her husband Michael knew anything about it. Every morning he saw her leave their comfortable house in the suburbs to go to the job she loved, as a computer operator with a large accountancy company. Some evenings she went to meetings, or to her yoga class. As far as Michael knew he was a good husband, although he worked long hours and was often away on business. As far as he knew his wife was happy, in spite of the fact that they couldn't have any children.

But instead of going to meetings, Janis was spending time in the harbourside apartment she had bought. Instead of going to her yoga class, she was shopping, buying glamorous clothes and exclusive perfumes, works of art and fabulous jewellery. She went to the most exclusive restaurants, the ballet and the opera. She lived a double life and her husband knew nothing about it.

It all began when she met Tony D'Angelo at an art dealership. Tony was a handsome and charming conman who persuaded her to buy a small but valuable sculpture. She secretly fantasised about a romance with him and spent more and more money on his advice. They often went out together, but Steadman found that she was the one who paid for everything. The romance never happened.

Janis' spending spree brought her tremendous excitement and happiness. It gave her life a new sense of purpose. She was born into a poor family, but now for the first time she was made to feel important. She was flattered by all the attention she received from salespeople. Now, at last, she had a place in the upper class social scene. Everyone made a fuss of her.

How could Steadman pay for this? Had she won the lottery? No, she hadn't. In fact, she had become a white-collar criminal. She stole the money she needed to pay for her lifestyle by hacking into the sales records of an e-business company. She was able to steal credit card details and to get money from a long list of people and companies. The funds were transferred to a secret account under a false name.

No one noticed the thefts at first. Maybe nobody would have noticed, but Steadman was caught because she became careless. She started wearing expensive jewellery to work. She was seen at the Opera with Tony. She started stealing larger and larger sums of money. Clients of the e-business company started noticing that they were losing money from their accounts.

Soon the police were knocking at the door of the comfortable suburban home. Her crime was discovered at last. And when police visited the harbourside apartment, they found an art collection that contained over 100 pieces and a dazzling collection of jewellery. These items are now being sold so that the victims of Janis' crime can get some of their money back.
dazzling tremendous victim
glamorous to fantasise to flatter
to get away with escape without punishment
as far as he knew based on the information he had
conman someone who tries to get money or other things by pretending to be someone they're not
to hack into to enter a computer programme or file illegally
to make a fuss of to make someone feel special and important

Now go to 03 READING She almost got away with it - task.


© 2002 acl Pty Ltd