Woman stole over $406,000 to fund lipstick addiction

A woman bought almost a thousand tubes of lipstick with more than two million yuan (S$406,000) that she stole from her company over the course of four years.

The 26-year-old woman, Xiaowen (pseudonym), was a financial controller at an unnamed company in Zhejiang province, China, and managed all of the company's finances, reported the Qianjiang Evening News.

She soon discovered that the company was lax on its financial management, and began pocketing some money for herself. The amount of money she took ballooned over the years, and she said that she had taken 890,000 yuan from the company in 2016 alone.

When asked about the missing money, Xiaowen would lie and say that the boss had withdrawn it.

Xiaowen then spent her ill-gotten gains online by splurging on lipstick, perfume, clothes and branded handbags.

When police searched her house after she turned herself in on March 31, they found that most of the products were virtually untouched. She had only used the lipsticks once or twice, and the perfume bottles were still in their boxes. The clothes hanging in the wardrobe were also brand new, with their tags still intact.

She would then post photos of her new buys on social networking sites, leading many of her friends to believe that she hailed from a well-off family, as the products she bought were from high-end brands.

She told police that she had only bought the products because she was attracted by the packaging.

"I don't like the smell of perfume and I don't usually wear makeup, so most of these are unused," she said. She added that making online purchases sent a surge of adrenaline through her, and that she would often buy multiple pieces of clothing but not wear them after she had made the purchase.

Psychology experts said that Xiaowen's behaviour was indicative of someone with compulsive buying disorder, where a person is unable to control their shopping urges, and impulsively makes purchases without consideration for possible consequences.

The psychological disorder can be caused by a multitude of factors, including anxiety, social isolation and escapaism.

Xiaowen is currently being detained in accordance with the law.