A door-to-door loan saleswoman who stole over £14,000 by fraudulently taking out loans in the names of 30 of her South Yorkshire clients has narrowly avoided being sent to prison.
While working as a credit agent for Shoppacheck Financial Services Ltd, Kerryann Latham, aged 34, took out a total of 60 loans in the name of 31 of her clients, Sheffield Crown Court heard yesterday.
Prosecuting, David Wain, told the court: "It's a doorstep loan company, in essence. Applications for each loan were completed by filling out a form with the signature of each applicant and the agent."
Latham, of Piccadilly Road, Swinton, Rotherham carried out the offending between March and November 2012, and the irregularities in the false loan applications submitted by Latham were discovered towards the end of 2012.
Mr Wain added: "The investigations revealed she created 60 loan applications involving 31 customers for a total of £14,300."
The court was told how a number of the customers Latham defrauded with the loan applications were severely impacted by her offending.
A female client who asked to borrow £100 had £300 taken out in her name, and due to receiving 'threatening letters' relating to the loan the woman paid back the entire amount out of fear, the court heard.
Another client defrauded by Latham lost out on a job 'she really needed' because she failed a credit check, due to Latham using her own address for a loan she fraudulently took out in the woman's name.
"This had an effect on the credit rating of many customers involved," said Mr Wain.
Under police interview Latham initially denied doing anything wrong, and then later accused her manager of wrong doing and planting the wrong information in her files.
Latham eventually admitted to one count of fraud by abuse of position at a hearing earlier this year.
Defending, Richard Thyne, said that among the factors of mitigation in Latham's case was her 'good character'.
He said: "There was a undoubtedly traumatic event in her life which led to her moving addresses and left her with very little.
"She set out to borrow a little and thought she could pay it back and it snowballed."
Judge Sarah Wright sentenced Latham to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years.
She said: "The offending had an impact on each and every customer.
"It's clear that you suffered a significant traumatic event in your life, and had to move areas. You suffer from significant health issues. I do note that having these health issues hanging over your head has put pressure on you and your family."
She added that she was only able to suspend Latham's sentence due to her exceptional personal circumstances, her previously clean criminal record and the fact she had not committed any other offences since December 2012.
The court was told how Latham had already paid back around £4,800 of the money she had stolen, leaving the outstanding amount owed at £9,500.
However, an investigation into Latham's finances found she was only in a position to repay £1 yesterday. A further proceeds of crime hearing is due to be heard later in the year.