A civil servant who defrauded the DWP of more than £40,000 to try and pay off gambling debts has been jailed for a year.
Crooked caseworker Lauren Wainwright set up 12 bank accounts that she used to divert money belonging to the Department for Work and Pensions.
The 52-year-old, of Alder Lane, Thornton, had admitted fraud in an earlier hearing at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court and was jailed by Judge Graham Knowles QC at Preston's Sessions House Court.
She now faces proceedings to reclaim the illicit cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act at a further hearing on June 12.
Prosecuting, Rosalind Emsley-Smith said between June 2017 and June 2018, Wainwright diverted public money into accounts she had set up using people’s National Insurance numbers.
Wainwright made 54 separate payments into the accounts, but a suspicious payment in July 2017 had triggered alarm bells and an investigation took place into her work.
Blackpool magistrates were previously told Wainwright had been on a DWP “fast stream” system designed to create staff capable of taking top posts in the civil service. It is aimed at developing “future senior leaders”.
But a DWP spokesman said the reports were incorrect.
She added: “We have zero-tolerance towards fraud. Any suspected cases are investigated by specialist staff who will refer all evidence immediately to the police, and we fully support any criminal investigations. Employees are subject to disciplinary action and dismissed where wrongdoing is proven.”