A fraudster who stole more than £130,000 from Premier League footballers, a top manager, and two millionaire businessmen has been jailed for three years and eight months.
Claire Liddle, 41, conned wealthy clients including Stoke City striker Peter Odemwingie, Liverpool defender Andre Wisdom, and former Celtic boss Tony Mowbray by offering to organise their luxury holidays.
Liddle was originally spared jail after admitting the £82,000 scam in 2014, but went on to steal another £22,000 from the chairman of telecommunications giant Lebara.
She then stole £33,000 from the boss of sales solutions firm Flixmedia. Liddle “frittered away” the money on alcohol and a Rolex watch.
In 2012, Liddle had set up a concierge service for wealthy individuals and gave presentations at football clubs by pretending to be working for Solutions Lifestyle.
Prosecutor Michael Morris told the Old Baileys court:
“Although she wasn’t employed by them she used their name and passed herself off as being from Solutions Lifestyle to offer luxury holidays at discounts.“She arranged to attend Premiership football clubs to provide presentations.”
Liddle swindled Odemwingie out of £15,000 after the striker handed over his bank details to organise his Miami honeymoon in 2012.
She also stole at least £7,500 from Liverpool defender Andre Wisdom, who is currently out on loan to Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg.
Former West Brom and Celtic boss Tony Mowbray was stung for £30,000 after asking Liddle to arrange a holiday to Dubai for him and his family.
Liddle claimed to have booked them into a top hotel but when they arrived they were told it had not been paid for and were forced to put the £13,000 bill on his credit card.
She then got Mowbray to hand over another £17,000 by claiming that the refund would be rolled into the family’s £30,000 summer holiday.
Two other wealthy clients were also targeted during the scam totalling £82,561. In April 2014 Liddle was sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for two years with 150 hours unpaid work after admitting fraud.
Liddle then got a job working as a PA for Yoganathan Ratheessan, the chief executive and chairman of Lebara. But after being dismissed three months later on 20 February 2015 she continued to use his card details to steal a total of £22,897.
Liddle was arrested in June 2015 and was on bail for that allegation when she fraudulently used a company credit card while working as a PA for Flixmedia between August 2015 and February 2016.
Mr Morris told a judge bosses became concerned when Liddle failed to show up at work on February 11 this year. On the day in question she was appearing in court.
Mr Morris said:
“The company called her next of kin who were told she was at court and would not be returning to work.“The company then did an internet search and found out about this case.“When they looked at their accounts they found she had defrauded that company by transferring cash from company credit cards into her personal bank account.“She withdrew thousands of pounds from an ATM and bought a number of Amazon gifts.”
The company claimed she stole a total of £49,000 but her plea to a lesser total of £33,000 was accepted. Liddle pleaded guilty to two counts of theft in relation to the Lebara and the Flixmedia cases.
She also admitted being in breach of the earlier suspended sentence for fraud. Liddle wept in court as she was sentenced to 12 months for Odemwingie, Wisdom, and Mowbray.
She was handed 16 month consecutive jail terms on each of the other two scams, making a total of 44 months.
Her defence barrister Bernard Eaton said Liddle had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder as an adult after being the victim of a crime as a teenager.
He added: “She feels as though she has got something she can get a handle on. She has conceded there will inevitably be a sentence of imprisonment. This offending was doomed to failure.”