PPI refunds company manager stole £90k to fund breast op

Louise Hitchen Image copyright GMP
Image caption Louise Hitchen also used stolen money to buy a Vauxhall Astra convertible

An admin manager stole more than £90,000 while working for a PPI refunds company - and used the money to fund breast enlargement surgery.

Louise Hitchen was working for Wigan-based Hardwick Financial Solutions Ltd when she carried out the fraud.

The 27-year-old also used the cash to buy a Vauxhall Astra convertible and to fund shopping sprees and day trips.

She was jailed for 12 months after admitting two counts of fraud by abuse of position.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the company specialised in refunding Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) policies unwittingly sold to people arranging bank loans or overdrafts.

Hitchen resigned from her post before the scam was uncovered in October 2012.

Police were called after Hitchen's former line manager was contacted by a customer asking where her money was.

'Frittered away'

An investigation was launched and it was established the client's money had been paid into Hitchen's bank account, rather than the company's.

Further checks found funds due to 15 people had not been paid, with a total of £93,250.56 moved to Hitchen's account.

Hitchen, of Newton-Le-Willows, Merseyside, tried to cover her tracks by deleting emails and destroying paper records, but was eventually arrested.

Det Con Mark Edwards, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "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 was herself."

Hitchen has since repaid £23,849.98. She could now be ordered to repay the rest of the money, and a further court hearing has been scheduled for July to discuss this.

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