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May 2, 2012 permalink
British social worker Clair Jones embezzled £7,000 intended for parents.
CSA worker 'threatened' by loan sharks siphoned off £6.8k into her own bank account
A WORKER at the Child Support Agency diverted nearly £7,000 due to be paid to parents into her own bank account, a court heard.
Clair Jones, aged 38, took the cash and altered records to cover her tracks, Plymouth magistrates were told.
Jones was struggling to pay debts and had been threatened by loan sharks, the court heard.
Jones, of Union Street, Stonehouse, admitted three counts of fraud by abuse of position in January 2009, July 2009 and August 2011.
Magistrates ordered a probation officer to prepare a background report but warned that all options including custody were being kept open.
Owen Lawton, prosecuting for the Department for Work and Pensions, said she was an employee of the Child Support Agency.
He said she diverted payments due to claimants into her own account and then altered the records to 'cover her tracks'.
Mr Lawton said the fraud came to light when an absentee parent due to receive a refund of nearly £400 complained that he had not had the cash.
He added the payment was traced to a bank account in Jones' name and she was instantly suspended.
Mr Lawton said in total three transfers of agency cash were made to her, adding up to £6,847.60.
He added: "Clearly there is a breach of trust but it is right to say all the money has been reimbursed."
Alan Harris, for Jones, said: "In circumstances in which she is deeply ashamed she decided to borrow the money for a short time and pay it back at the first opportunity."
He added her debts had escalated from about 2007.
Mr Harris said she had gone to the Citizens Advice Bureau for guidance but still ended up owing cash to doorstep loan collectors.
He added she had even been threatened if the money was not paid.
Mr Harris said: "She knew straight away she had lost her job and any prospect of being employed anywhere where she has responsibility."
He added she had co-operated with investigators and quickly repaid the money, partly through a loan from her mother.
Magistrates released her on unconditional bail for a probation report. She is due to be sentenced on May 23.
Source: Plymouth Herald