A debt-ridden hotel worker struggling with payday loans cheated her bosses over £ 16,000 so she could track her repayments, a court said on Friday.
Stacy Seabourne, 41, made bogus refunds on her own debit cards from the Tewkesbury Park hotel where she was employed as a meetings and golf coordinator, Gloucester Crown Court said.
She had been in such financial difficulty that she took out new high-interest loans to repay previous payday loans, the court said.
Seabourne, of Sydwall Road, Hereford, admitted that between January 24 and August 23, 2017, she made a false statement involving 17 debit card transactions belonging to her and a family member.
The total she hijacked from the Tewkesbury hotel was £ 16,611 to £ 25, prosecutor James Haskell said.
Seabourne was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for two years and 20 days of rehabilitation activities.
Mr Haskell said Seabourne landed the job at the hotel in September 2016, in part because she was already proficient with the computer system he was using.
“Deviations have been discovered”
Last summer, an audit was carried out and discrepancies were discovered, he said. It was found that some transaction details had been erased and refunds had apparently been made to debit cards associated with Seabourne. Seventeen refunds had been made on four debit cards.
A disciplinary hearing was called and Seabourne made a candid confession to what she was doing, Mr Haskell said.
Police questioned Seabourne on January 22 this year and she made a full confession, explaining that she had stolen money to help him manage his debts.
Mr Haskell said Seabourne had never been convicted of a criminal offense, but was warned by police for fraud in 2011.
Stephen Thompson, defending, said Seabourne still had debts of around £ 17,000 – down from the £ 30,000 she owed at the time of the offenses.
She has taken steps to manage her debts now and some have been written off, he added.
“She had taken out payday loans to pay off other payday loans”
“It’s very topical,” he said. “Yesterday, one of these payday loan companies was put into receivership after a crackdown on the way they operate their businesses.
“This lady had taken out payday loans to pay off other payday loans. Sometimes these interest rates on loans run into the thousands or hundreds of percent.
“That doesn’t justify what she did in any way. But the most unattractive frauds are those where people steal their employers and spend the money on lavish lifestyles or expensive vacations. the case here. “
He said Seabourne’s mother was ready to give him £ 5,000 to compensate the hotel and Seabourne would pay the balance in monthly installments. She has a new part-time job and hopes it will be permanent from October.
His fraud warning in 2011 concerned using a friend’s credit card to pay his phone bill, he added.
Seabourne was sobbing on the dock as Judge Graham Cottle told him, “Your employers could hardly afford to lose that kind of money.
“It was a private hotel and they had just started to turn things around, but they couldn’t afford someone they trusted to steal £ 16,000 from them.
“It was a very, very nasty thing to do and you should be ashamed of yourself – and I believe you are.”
The judge said he had read the details of his “difficult upbringing” which left scars on him, but he would not go into details about it in open court because he did not want to embarrass him.