Woman dodges jail over tanning salon scam

Julie Forman. Picture: contributed

Julie Forman. Picture: contributed

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A CONWOMAN who embezzled thousands of pounds in a tanning salon scam has escaped a jail sentence.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard Julie Forman had stolen the cash from business partner Kristopher Millar after the pair opened the bronzing business in Prestonpans, East Lothian.

Forman – who was also convicted of stealing funds from a boat club five years ago – took £4000 from her victim to pay for a refit to a proposed property in the town, but soon began ignoring Mr Millar’s calls.

Forman, from Dirleton, East Lothian, then made up stories about a fake workman to keep Mr Millar in the dark and also pretended she was sending out invitations for the launch of the new salon.

Forman was yesterday sentenced to carry out unpaid work in the community and received a compensation order after she pleaded guilty to an amended charge of embezzling £4000 while engaged in a joint enterprise to open a tanning salon with Mr Millar between May 15 and 20, 2014.

Previously, the court heard that Forman, 45, had told Mr Miller she owned a number of tanning salons in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and was keen to open one in Prestonpans.

Mr Miller handed over a sum of cash so Forman could buy stock and carry out work on the building.

But contact between the pair soon ended and Mr Miller called in police after he found out that no work had been completed.

During the subsequent police interview, Forman admitted that she knew Mr Miller and that she had taken the money from him.

She told officers the landlord of the property had not given permission for any sunbeds to be installed and that she was “frightened” about informing Mr Miller of the change in circumstances.

Yesterday, Sheriff Katherine Mackie ordered Forman to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and placed her on a six-month supervision order.

Sheriff Mackie also told Forman she had imposed a compensation order for £4000 despite the cash having already been paid back.

Mr Millar said: “We met through mutual friends and I trusted her but now I know I was taken in by a con artist.

“I couldn’t believe it when I learned she had done this before. I can’t believe I was taken in but she seemed plausible.

“After visiting the property once, I did not see it again and later realised she was going out of her way to keep me away.

“She visited my home almost daily with updates which stopped me going to see the work. I became suspicious quickly and contacted the police.”

In 2011, Forman almost destroyed the Prestonpans Yachting and Boating Club when she took nearly £1600 of club members’ fees while acting as secretary. She was sentenced to carry out 150 hours of community service by Haddington Sheriff Court after being convicted of embezzling £1595 from the organisation.