A SELF-employed credit agent went missing after she was quizzed by her bosses about fraudulent loans, a court heard.

Lockwood woman, Paula Balmforth, had been working for Greenwood Personal Credit Ltd for eight years.

An investigation was held last year into a query by a client over two loans totalling £1,100, which he had supposedly taken out.

But the man’s signature had been forged on loan agreements completed by Balmforth. And after initial questioning in July she went missing for 10 days.

Bradford Crown Court heard that the 52-year-old eventually contacted the firm and informed them she wanted to “tell them everything’’.

Prosecutor Ewan McLachlan, said Balmforth, who had no previous convictions, identified 14 occasions when she had forged customer signatures.

The fraud involved 11 different customers and sums totalling £12,300.

An inquiry into Balmforth’s activities revealed two further forged loans totalling £1,724. She also admitted stealing £1,100 from customer repayments and a cash float.

Mr McLachlan said the total loss to the credit firm was just over £15,000 but over time Balmforth had repaid just under £5,000.

When interviewed by police in August, Balmforth, of Emmanuel Terrace, Lockwood, said she had lost some of the firm’s money and had taken out the fraudulent loans to try to cover it up.

Mr McLachlan said Balmforth intended to pay it back, but her debts had snowballed. Balmforth insisted she had not spent the money on a lavish lifestyle and Mr McLachlan confirmed there was no evidence of high living.

Balmforth, who is now unemployed, admitted one charge of fraud and one allegation of theft.

Her barrister, Niall Carlin, said she had been robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Judge Peter Benson said Balmforth had never been in trouble before and had been a hard-working person all her life.

He said she had made frank admissions to what she had done and had pleaded guilty.

“It doesn't seem to me any good would be done by sending you straight away to custody,’’ added Judge Benson.

Balmforth was made the subject of a 12-month community order which includes supervision and four-month home curfew between 8pm and 6am five nights a week.