A man who worked for an insurance company admitted defrauding of it more than £96,000.

Joshua King, 25, of Bannister Close, Hastings, pleaded guilty to stealing funds from Hastings Direct between 23 March and 26 November 2018 when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court on Wednesday (27 November).

The court heard that King was employed by Hastings Direct handling insurance claims. In November last year, an internal fraud investigation uncovered that King had made 41 false claims when dealing with genuine customer claims with the company, which resulted in fraudulent payments to various bank accounts in King’s name starting in March 2018. However no Hastings Direct customers were financially impacted by King’s actions.

When King was arrested, he complied with investigators and admitted committing the offences, stating that he had an online gambling addiction and had got into thousands of pounds worth of debt. He had tried to seek help from various charities for his addiction and that being caught and arrested had saved his life.

King was sentenced to 20-months imprisonment, suspended for two years. He was ordered to carry out 250 hours unpaid work and given a curfew for six-months to remain indoors during the hours of 10pm to 6am.

King had also paid back £50,000 of the money he stole.

Detective Constable David Brown said: “King used his position at Hastings Direct to make false claims and access funds in order to pay off his own debts instead of coming clean and admitting he was in financial trouble.”

Matthew Stevens, Hastings Direct Director of Counter Fraud, said: “We take all appropriate action to pursue and deter fraudulent activity against our customers, colleagues and company so we welcome the court’s decision but we are also saddened about the impact it will have on Joshua and his family.”