A Newton woman who stole more than £90,000 from the PPI claim firm she worked for to pay for breast surgery has been jailed for 12 months.
Louise Hitchen, 27, used her position as an administration manager at Hardwick Financial Solutions to pilfer funds the company had won for its clients.
When suspicious bosses launched an investigation, they found Hitchen, of School Street, had used the stolen cash to buy a Vauxhall Astra convertible and breast enhancement surgery.
Det Con Mark Edwards, from GMP’s Volume Fraud Team, said the fraudster “frittered away” the rest of the cash on a series of lavish shopping sprees.
“In the space of about four months Louise Hitchen stole close to £100,000,” said Det Con Edwards.
“With the exception of the cosmetic surgery and car - which has since been returned - Louise Hitchen frittered away much of the cash on shopping sprees and trips out.
“The cost to Hardwick Financial Solutions LTD has been significant and has included staff losing their jobs but the only person Louise thought about while she had her ‘hand in the till’ was herself.”
Hitchen admitted two counts of fraud by abuse of position of trust at Liverpool Crown Court last week.
She had been employed by Hardwick, a company based in Goose Green, Wigan, for almost 18 months but her crimes were only uncovered when she suddenly left the office in October 2012 after a period of poor performance.
She later resigned but two months later a client phoned Hitchen’s former line manager querying why funds the company had won for her had not been paid into her bank account.
An investigation was launched and bosses quickly discovered the client’s money had been paid into Hitchen’s account, rather than the account of Hardwick.
At this point, Hitchen returned some of the funds, including the car she had bought.
However, the firm also discovered electronic and paper records of transactions had been deleted so as to make it impossible to established whether further funds had been stolen.
A further client then contacted the firm in March 2013, who was claimed to be owed cash.
Police were called and an investigation was launched.
Hitchen’s bank accounts were checked and fifteen transfers were identified that had come from two companies who settle claims with Hardwick Financial Solutions LTD.
The total payments into Louise Hitchen’s bank account was £93,250.56, £23,849.98 of which has been repaid by her.