A credit card company employee who faked a robbery to cover up her embezzlement has been sentenced to unpaid work and a curfew.
Inverness Sheriff Court heard on Thursday that Karen Main had owed a lot of money and targeted a large number of customers by fraudulently issuing loans.
In total, the 49-year-old embezzled £23,000 of company funds.
To hide the fact she had taken from the float, Main claimed an intruder took some money, leaving her with a head injury.
On Thursday, her defence solicitor Grant Daglish persuaded Sheriff Margaret Neilson not to jail his client.
He said: “Although she asked customers to take out the loans, they were aware they were for her and she was paying them. Her gambling was an issue for the debt as well as abuse by her ex-partner.
“This is a lady who got herself in a bit of a mess and panicked. I am not sure if the money was recovered through insurance by the company. She would like to attempt to repay it, but with her financial situation, it is not feasible. She has lost everything, friends and family and is working with agencies for her addiction as well as getting counselling for the abuse.”
Sentenced to unpaid hours, supervision and curfew
Sheriff Neilson ordered Main, of Keith Road, Burghead, to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work, be under one year of social work supervision and remain in her home between 7pm and 7am for the next six months as part of a restriction of liberty order.
Main, who had worked for Provident UK for 20 years, admitted embezzling monies and wasting police time. Sentence was deferred previously for a background report.
Fiscal depute Robert Weir told Sheriff Neilson that Main had used three methods of obtaining cash because she had got into “significant financial difficulties.”
“She would issue a loan without the customer’s knowledge and on occasions at a later date claim it had been issued accidentally. The second was to offer a cash reward to a customer if they took part in a fictitious training scheme.
“The third was to utilise friendships with the customer and abuse her position of trust to persuade them to take out a loan on her behalf to help out of financial difficulties.”
Mr Weir said that she made arrangements that the holiday cover agent would not visit those customers who had been her victims by insisting they pay her in advance.
When the company changed their procedures in July 2018, Main would persuade clients to take out a loan on her behalf, or a larger one than planned and she would pay her part back, Mr Weir went on.
“Or she would take out a loan on their part and then phone them to say she accidentally increased the size of the loan. All in all, she did pay back a lot of the interest and capital on the loans. None of the customers are out of pocket, only Provident UK.” Mr Weir said.
‘Man brandished pole and demanded money’
The prosecutor also described the faked robbery that Main made up to hide her appropriation of cash she was allowed to hold as a float. It was permitted to be up to £6,000.
He told how Main was to be visited by her line manager on December 27 to get her customer list prior to a holiday when she was supposed to bank her “float.”
Before her superior arrived, the court was told Main claimed she had left the door open for her as she went out for cigarettes and an intruder had robbed her of £1,985 of the £2,559 she held prior to banking.
“She claimed she saw a man in her hallway, brandishing a pole and demanding money.” Mr Weir said.
He added that she threw some cash and coins at the robber, and she was then knocked unconscious by him. A neighbour found her with a head injury and she was taken to hospital.
Mr Weir went on: “An extensive police inquiry was instigated with house to house enquiries, checking of CCTV footage. A significant number of officers were involved and detectives spent many hours with Main. She had ample opportunity to come forward and admit her wrongdoing.”
She resigned from the company shortly after.