Conwoman jailed after swindling internet company out of £227,000

A SERIAL conwoman who swindled £227,000 out of an internet company has been jailed for three years.

Pauline Preston, 53, was so angry when she was made redundant she simply diverted cash into her own bank account to pay off debts.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that Preston’s record of dishonesty stretches back nearly 20 years.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

She was convicted of deception in 1994 and in 1999 was jailed for six months after stealing from the resident of an elderly people’s home.

She was then jailed for 21 months in February, 2006 after she dishonestly obtained £6,000 from the residents at another care home.

Preston served just half of that sentence but in June, 2007 was jailed for another 20 months after obtaining £11,000 by deception from a company where she worked as a receptionist.

Beverley Tait, prosecuting, said Preston had been working for Maple Syrup Media, which runs the Sheffield-based website Quidco since August, 2010. Despite her criminal record it appeared no checks or references were sought. On January 7 this year she was laid off by the firm which blamed the financial downturn.

Investigations started after an associate company of Quidco failed to receive a payment from them and it transpired Preston had changed the bank details so £200,000 went straight into her personal account.

Preston, of Oldfield Road, Stannington, Sheffield admitted two offences of fraud and one of theft of a laptop. The money has since been recovered.

Amanda Denton, for Preston, said the payments she diverted were commission based so she had no idea how much money she would receive.

Jailing Preston for a total of three years, Judge Alan Goldsack said her criminality was a substantial breach of trust. He said: “It is a matter of surprise you were employed without any background checks. That in no way excuses what you did. You are in fact a very dishonest lady and have been for the last 20 years.”