Radlett salon manager stole almost £5,000 with 'Liz Taylor' refund ruse

Borehamwood Times: Jonelle Roberts Jonelle Roberts

A beauty salon manager stole almost £5,000 from her employers by making fake refunds to a fictitious customer called Liz Taylor.

Jonelle Roberts tried to cover her tracks by pretending to be the bogus client over email but slipped up when she signed off one of the emails with her own name.

Her ruse was finally discovered when she attracted her employers’ suspicion by transferring more than £4,000 to herself in one go.

A judge at St Albans Crown Court heard that when the owners of Yvonne James Beauty Clinic in Radlett tried to meet Roberts to discuss the transfers she pretended she had broken her ankle.

She then said she could not meet salon owner, Yvonne Rowson, because she was going to America on holiday for six weeks.

It later emerged that Roberts was intending to go to the states for three months and not planning not to return to work.

At a court hearing on Tuesday Roberts, of Garsmouth Way, Garston, was told she could face jail for the thefts from her employer.

Prosecutor Alan Richards told the court Roberts transferred the money to her credit card while employed at the salon between February and May 2012.

The court heard that over two months Miss Roberts initially siphoned off £260 by assigning payments to Liz Taylor refunds.

The court heard she also provided a false email address for Liz Tayor through which she had conversations with staff.

The judge was told that during an email conversation with the owner’s daughter, Kelly Rowson, Roberts accidentally signed off one of the Liz Taylor emails as "Jonelle".

The prosecution said the emails sent by "Liz Taylor" originated from an IP addresses associated with the defendant’s home or the clinic itself.

Roberts scam was discovered when she transferred more than £4,000 to herself on May 22.

Roberts initially said she had transferred large sum by mistake after becoming confused as she had been using her credit card for online shopping that day.

It was later discovered she had transferred around £4,800 to her account in total.

Mr Richards said: "Miss Roberts was not an ordinary employee. She had management responsibilities so enhanced the degree of trust in her and therefore aggravates the seriousness of this case.

"The defendant showed some level of persistence and a degree of sophistication."

When Miss Roberts’s home was searched by police, various beauty products and a UV lamp were recovered, which had the value of nearly £200.

They money stolen was recovered by Roberts’s bank, apart from £232 which could not be refunded due to a time lapse.

Recorder Peter Crabtree said: "From the start of employment with this beauty clinic the defendant essentially acted dishonestly.

"Small amounts to start with culminating in the significantly larger amount to her credit card in circumstances where she had created a fictitious character to disguise her behaviour, and in circumstances where it is clear she was about to leave this country for at least a period three months."

"The defendant was a manager in this salon that is an important factor.

"In my view the maximum sentence I would impose if the defendant were to plead guilty at this stage would be six months imprisonment."

Roberts, who admitted theft from employer, was bailed to reappear for sentencing on June 30.

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