Laura Plews must pay Minster Vets clients money back – or go to jail

In January, York Crown Court heard how Laura Louise Plews, now 35, used Minster Vets’ payment system to divert funds the practice held secretly on behalf of clients to three bank accounts she maintained.

By the time the practice’s CFO found out what was going on, she had taken money 83 times in amounts ranging from £30 to £2,000 apiece.

At an asset seizure hearing, York Court Clerk Judge Sean Morris learned she had profited £22,612 from her crimes and had almost triple that in assets.

He ordered her to pay back all the money within three months, otherwise she faces seven months in prison for late payment.

This is separate from the sentence she received for her crimes in January. At the time, she was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months on condition that she worked 100 hours of unpaid work and did not commit a crime.

Read more about the hearing in January here

Plews of The Croft, Sheriff Hutton had pleaded guilty to fraud by misrepresentation.

Plews was not in court at the seizure hearing, but her attorney, Graham Parkin, said she was aware of the numbers and the penalty she faces if she doesn’t pay.

The judge agreed that the money would be paid out as compensation and not go to state funds.

Ayman Khokhar, the prosecutor, told the court in January that Minster Vets suffered financial losses because it returned the stolen money to customers.

Plews worked in the practice for ten years and was promoted to head of her department.

Mr Khokhar said in January that Plews committed the fraud between June 2020 and March 2022 at Minster Vets branches in Salisbury Road, Leeman Road and Willow Grove, New Earswick, when their crimes were discovered.

The practice offered its customers the option of making partial payments for the treatment of their pets.

It would then collect the full amount from the customer’s pet insurance and refund the partial amount to the customer once the full amount was received.

The money was kept in the practice’s accounts on behalf of the clients.

Plews arranged for “refunds” to be sent to her bank account and not to customers, the prosecution attorney said.

In early 2022, audits by VetPartners’ practice management finance team revealed Plews’ actions.

She has made 56 “refunds” totaling just over £18,500 to a bank account, the first of which appears to have been a “real mistake”, Mr Khokhar said. Then she consciously took the rest with her.

She had also made 27 other “refunds” to two other bank accounts.

For the fraudulent transfers, she usually used old or dormant customer accounts, but also redirected 25 real transfers that should have gone to customers.—go-jail/?ref=rss Laura Plews must pay Minster Vets clients money back – or go to jail

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