"The intent was to take money and escape, to flee."
Zainab Pervaiz, aged 29, of Walsall, received a suspended sentence after she stole £31,000 from her employer so she could “flee an arranged marriage in Pakistan”.
Birmingham Crown Court heard that she previously avoided prison in 2017 after she received a suspended two-year jail term.
She had admitted 16 counts of fraud, by selling bogus tickets to pop concerts.
But five months later and weeks into a new customer advisor job, Pervaiz was defrauding money from her boss by diverting refunds into a relative’s account.
The offences took place between May and July 2018.
Harinderpal Dhami, prosecuting, said: “The complainant said the whole incident has left him distressed and upset as he placed her in a position of trust within his company.
“As a result, he has been left in a dire financial situation.
“He lost the franchise which was his livelihood. He has been paying for debts out of his own pocket.
“He suffered from anxiety, depression and panic attacks. He’s had very little contact with his immediate family members.
“He is now challenging bankruptcy.
“There is a lot of pressure and anxiety upon him, he had to plough into the business his own personal savings to try and keep the business going.”
Pervaiz “squandered” approximately £24,000 of the stolen money on hotels, B&Bs and food to stay away from her family home after her relationship with a woman was exposed at the ticket fraud sentencing.
The rest of the money was saved as she feared “more severe consequences” if she was sent to Pakistan for an arranged marriage to a man.
However, Judge Sarah Buckingham said there was “probably no basis” for those fears.
Lynette McClement, defending, said: “Her family had no idea she was gay.
“[After the offending], the worst disgrace for her family was that she was in a sexual relationship with a woman.
“This was the attitude, with respect to her mother who has come around.
“The intent was to take money and escape, to flee. That is the level of desperation I was trying to get across. I do not wish to suggest that was a reality, but it was a belief.”
It was heard that Pervaiz and her now-fiancee, who live together, run a dog grooming business which “couldn’t carry on” without her if she was jailed.
Miss McClement added: “She has turned her life around. She has had real insight into her behaviour and the reasons for it and how to deal with it.
“It was simply a transaction into the bank account she was using and which her employer paid her wages.
“It is just a straightforward act of stupidity. The offending was far from sophisticated.”
Pervaiz pleaded guilty to theft by employee and was sentenced to a further 18-month sentence, suspended for 24 months.
Judge Buckingham said: “I was perplexed and confused how an intelligent woman like you could and would have so blatantly and deliberately set about another set of dishonest offences.
“It was a family friend who had given you a chance, how on earth could you have stooped so low?”
“There can be absolutely no doubt that the victim [the complainant] has suffered irreparable loss.
“He is facing bankruptcy, he is personally liable for other people’s debts.
“His life and his business has been shattered by your selfish actions.”
Although Pervaiz had “failed to respect” the opportunity given to her previously, the mitigation allowed her to understand her personal situation more clearly.
Judge Buckingham added: “What followed was the pressure from the community and family being brought to bear to change your sexuality for the ‘good’ of the whole family and community and their reputation.
“Certainly that is how I am receiving the mitigation. You were unable to cope with that.
“I am prepared to accept the fact that what you had feared were more severe consequences should you go to Pakistan for an arranged marriage.
“There was probably no basis for thinking that at all but I’m prepared to accept you in your fragile state believed that.
“For three years has now passed, you have now immeasurable support and people of some standing who know about this dishonest side to you, which there clearly is and needs to be addressed, have put pen to paper to speak of your positive attributes.
“People speak very highly of you. It will not serve a purpose at all to send you to immediate custody.”
Pervaiz was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work alongside an 18-month community order.
The stolen money would be repaid to the victim through the Proceeds of Crime Act, but the judge said it would “never” compensate the victim for the direct losses he has suffered as a result.