Former IT project manager at David Jones, Steven Prestage, was sentenced to 18 months behind bars last week for defrauding the company of $79,200 in contractor payments, according to NewsCorp publications.

In 2017, Prestage suggested the department store brand hire Petite Software Systems for an IT project.

Petite Software Systems was owned by Prestage’s friend, Martin Turner, who had no idea his business had been contracted for the job.

Instead of letting the money for the contract go to Turner, Prestage altered the invoices so the payments went to a different, but similarly named company, instead: Petite Solutions.

Petite Solutions, registered in the name of Prestage’s mother-in-law, received payments of up to $19,000 at a time for an IT job that was not getting done.

According to NewsCorp, Prestage also forged a signature on a purchase order from David Jones for $41,800.

Not his first fraud

Amazingly, Prestage had run the exact same scheme shortly before he started working at David Jones.

In 2016, Prestage was contracted as a project manager for the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (DFSI).

Tasked with implementing the use of a new project portfolio management software, he convinced the department to contract Petite Software Systems for the job, according to a report from the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Petite Software Systems’ owner, Martin Turner, was unaware of the contract.

As with the David Jones case, Prestage issued invoices in the name of Petite Software Systems but that had bank details of Petite Solutions – the company registered in his mother-in-law’s name.

“Mr Prestage used the names Petite Software Systems, Petite Solutions, and “Petite” interchangeably in his dealings with DFSI and the ICT contractors,” the ICAC report said.

“This created uncertainty as to the identity of the supplier of ICT contractors to the Clarity Project and the identity of the party receiving payments from DFSI.

“It facilitated his dishonest scheme.”

In the space of about five months, Prestage moved more than $500,000 from the Petite Solutions bank account into ones he controlled, using the money to make mortgage payments among other expenses.

DFSI also paid Prestage over $100,000 for his role as a project manager.

During its investigation, ICAC spoke with Prestage’s wife and mother-in-law who speaks “very limited English”.

According to the ICAC report, Prestage was the sole financial provider for the household of that includes two children his mother-in-law.

Prestage is out on bail while he appeals his sentence.