A FRAUDSTER diverted almost £100,000 into her own bank account from her employers’ funds a court has heard.

In a proceeds of crime hearing at Liverpool Crown Court, it was agreed that Louise Hitchen had pocketed a total of £96,620.

It was also discovered that she had assets worth £23,849 and has paid this amount back.

Hitchen, 27, a mother of one from School Street in Newton-le-Willows, had pleaded guilty earlier this year to two fraud offences and was jailed for 12 months.

During her sentencing hearing the court heard that she had been employed as an administrative manager of a PPI claims firm and diverted funds to her own bank account, spending £3,000 on breast enhancement surgery.

She claimed that the deception spiralled out of control when she secretly transferred £3,000 to her account to pay for an abortion but then greed took over.

Her spending spree, which followed an increased use of drink and drugs, also included a car, holidays to Ghana and Ireland, clothes and on-line spending.

By the time it came to light she had made off with £93,000, which meant her employer had to shelve expansion plans and lay off ten members of staff.

Jailing her Judge Robert Warnock said: "A significant driving force behind this fraud was greed and the wish to artificially boost her own self-esteem."

Hitchen was not present for the hearing.