A debt-ridden hotel worker who was struggling with payday loans cheated her employer out of more than £16,000 so she could keep up with her repayments, a court was told last week.
Stacy Seabourne, 41, made bogus refunds to her own debit cards from the 93-bedroom Tewkesbury Park hotel where she was employed as meetings and golf coordinator, Gloucester Crown Court was told.
She had got into such bad financial difficulties that she had been taking out new high interest loans to make the repayments on earlier payday loans.
Seabourne admitted that between 24 January and 23 August 2017 she made a false representation involving 17 transactions on debit cards belonging to herself and a family member. The total she misappropriated from the hotel was £16,611.25, said prosecutor James Haskell.
Seabourne was sentenced to six months’ jail suspended for two years and ordered to undergo 20 days of rehabilitation activities.
Last summer an audit was carried out and discrepancies were discovered, said Haskell. It was found that details of some transactions had been erased and that refunds had apparently been made to debit cards associated with Seabourne. A disciplinary hearing was convened and she made frank admissions about what she was doing.
Police interviewed Seabourne on 22 January this year and she made full admissions, explaining that she had stolen money to help manage her debts.
Haskell said Seabourne had no previous criminal convictions but was cautioned by police for fraud in 2011.
Stephen Thompson, defending, said Seabourne still has debts of around £17,000 – down from the £30,000 she owed at the time of the offences. She has taken action to manage her debts now and some have been written off, he added.
“This is very topical,” he said. “Yesterday one of these payday loan companies went into administration 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 loan interest rates are in the thousands or hundreds of percent.
“This doesn’t in any way justify what she did. But the most unattractive frauds are where people steal from their employers and spend the money on lavish lifestyles or expensive holidays. That is not the case here.”
He said Seabourne’s mother is prepared to give her £5,000 towards compensating the hotel and Seabourne will pay off the balance in monthly instalments. She has a new part-time job and hopes it will be permanent from October.
Her fraud caution in 2011 related to her using a friend’s credit card to pay her phone bill, he added.
Seabourne sobbed in the dock as Judge Graham Cottle told her: “Your employers could ill afford to lose this kind of money. It was a privately-owned hotel and they had just started to turn it around but they could not afford for someone they trusted to steal £16,000 from them.
“It was a very very mean thing to do and you should be utterly ashamed – and I believe that you are.”