Woman jailed over £500k fraud

Jailed for fraud - Charlotte Darwen of Ledgard Avenue, Leigh
Jailed for fraud - Charlotte Darwen of Ledgard Avenue, Leigh
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A SCHEMING company finance assistant who siphoned off more than £500,000 from her bosses and blew it on lavish holidays and cosmetic surgery has been jailed.

Charlotte Darwen, of Ledgard Avenue, Leigh, pleaded guilty at Stockport Magistrates’ Court to fraud by abuse of position of trust.

The 26-year-old, who is now beginning a three-year prison term, worked in accounts at Action 365, a motor claims management company, in Cheadle Hulme.

And the court heard she took advantage of one of her roles of processing invoices for the finance director to make transfers from the company bank accounts to her own.

Each time she would change the payee reference to disguise the illegal outgoings as legitimate payments to suppliers.

In total she made more than 300 separate payments to her own bank account, which totalled £508,120.38.

She had been working for the firm for more than six years when the offence was discovered last December after an audit uncovered discrepancies in the company accounts.

Further investigation uncovered the numerous payments that had been made to Charlotte Darwen’s personal bank account.

When confronted by her employers, Darwen admitted what she had done and claimed that she spent the money betting, as she had a gambling habit.

But subsequent analysis of her accounts showed that although she did spend a significant account on gambling, she also spend a vast amount on living an extravagant lifestyle way beyond her normal means.

This included splashing out more than £5,000 on cosmetic procedures, foreign holidays and nearly £50,000 on a deposit for a new house.

Det Con Andy Devonshire, of GMP⿿s Volume Fraud Team, said: ⿿”While many people have been tightening their belts just to make ends meet, Darwen fleeced her company to fund the kind of lifestyle she thought she was entitled to.

“She didn’t put in extra shifts or study for qualifications to pay for it - she just siphoned it off the very people who were paying her wages.

“She managed to buy a new house, enjoy holidays and even paid for cosmetic surgery. She has blamed her amassing of a small fortune on a gambling addiction.

“While it is true she spent a considerable amount on gambling websites, her addiction was by no means restricted to games of chance.

“She was also clearly addicted to what you might call ‘retail therapy.’

“Thanks to the diligence of the company and the hard work GMP, she is not only now facing a lengthy jail term, but, will hopefully be forced to hand back a chunk of what she stole.⿝”