A FRAUDULENT Wigan admin manager, who diverted cash from her employer’s funds into her own bank account to pay for breast enhancement, lavish holidays and other treats has been ordered to pay thousands back.
After out-of-court negotiations it was agreed that Louise Hitchen’s dishonesty, while working for Hardwick Financial Solutions of Goose Green, had made her £96,620.
It was also agreed that she had realisable assets of £23,849 and Liverpool Crown Court was told that she has already paid this money back.
Hitchen, a 27-year-old mother-of-one, of School Street, Newton-le-Willows, had pleaded guilty earlier this year to two fraud offences and in May was jailed for 12 months.
During the sentencing hearing the court heard that she had been employed as an administrative manager of a PPI claims firm and diverted funds to her own bank account and spent £3,000 on breast enhancement.
She claimed her offending began when she secretly transferred £3,000 funds to her own bank account to pay for an abortion but then greed took over.
Her spending spree, which followed a downward spiral into drink and drugs abuse, also included a car, holidays to Ghana and Ireland, clothes and on-line shopping.
By the time it came to light she had made off with £93,000 which resulted in expansion plans by the firm being shelved and 10 members of staff being laid off.
Jailing her Judge Robert Warnock said “A significant driving force behind this fraud was greed and the wish to artificially boost her own self-esteem.”
Hitchen, a mother-of-one was not present for the Proceeds of Crime hearing.
When she began work in March 2011 she was described as “keen and enthusiastic” but by July the following year her performance had deteriorated and she was subject to disciplinary proceedings.
Her line manager became suspicious as she appeared to be living beyond her means and buying a car, having breast enlargement and on line shopping but Hitchen claimed her boyfriend worked overseas and was sending her money.
But in December a client complained they had not been paid out and investigations revealed that the cash had gone into Hitchen’s payroll bank account.
Hitchen claimed it had been “a one-off” but inquires showed other payments, totalling £28,574 and when again contacted Hitchen repaid just under £20,000 and handed over her £4,700 Vauxhall Astra car.
In March last year another client complained they had not been paid out and it was found that she had diverted other funds to herself but destroyed the audit trail.
She agreed to produce her bank statements and it was discovered that the total amount she had taken totalled £93,250 in 15 separate transactions.