A dental practice manager swindled her company out of more than £60,000 to makes ends meet after her husband was made redundant.
Jennifer Christine Locke, 33, had been in a position of trust and supervised during the “sophisticated” crime which took place between September 11, 2018 and July 29, 2020.
But a judge said she could be rehabilitated and that sending her to jail would be detrimental to her three children.
She was given a two-year jail term, suspended for two years.
In November 2020, Bupa told staff it was planning close its practice on Prince’s Drive in Colwyn Bay in February this year in a move thought to affect thousands of patients.
As practice manager, Locke was responsible for the day-to-day management of the two sites and was a line manager to 16 members of staff.
On July 17 last year, staff became aware of £18,000 of refunds had been made and a review was undertaken.
The review identified a large number of refunds going to “so called patients” who had in fact not been seen.
The fraud against Bupa Dental Care Ltd amounted to £60,276.15.
The prosecutor said Locke had used five bank cards and three accounts and made 93 fraudulent transactions.
The money had gone into her own account.
There was a disciplinary hearing and police were called in.
The court heard Locke, of Rhyl Road, Rhuddlan, was arrested on August 25 last year and admitted her offending.
Ms Owen said: “She had created false customer accounts using fictitious names (and) the money had gone into her own account to pay for debts and living costs.”
But she added that Bupa staff had had to spend over 200 hours investigating the fraud which alone cost £5,620.
Locke had been in a substantial position of trust and the potential damage to the company’s reputation was unquantifiable said Ms Owen.
Sarah Yates, defending, said Locke’s husband had been made redundant at the time of the offending and the family was in “dire financial straits”.
She said: “She acted out of pure desperation trying to keep her family afloat – trying to support her husband and three children. She feels like she has let them down.”
The judge Her Honour Nicola Jones said it was a sophisticated crime.
But she told Locke: “The theft by you was not to fund a lavish lifestyle but to make ends meet when you and your family were in dire financial circumstances.
“Your career as a dental nurse is over.”
But she gave her a two year jail sentence suspended for two years.
She ordered Locke to do 250 hours of unpaid work and observe a six-month curfew between 9pm and 6am.
She must also pay the maximum compensation allowed under the guidelines of £550.
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