A PAYDAY loans agent who tricked her vulnerable clients into borrowing nearly £15,000 and handing her the cash has been jailed.

Marivic Balmer, 47, worked for Basildon-based Provident Personal Credit from 2008, visiting customers at their homes in the town to collect debts, give advice and approve new loans.

Basildon Crown Court heard she befriended some of her customers and convinced them to make fraudulent applications on her behalf over a 12 month period from July 2013.

The firm- which uses the tagline “the loan that comes to you”- charges up to 1,577 per cent interest.

Balmer, of Maldon Road, Burnham, obtained a total of 15 loans, exposing five customers to more than £30,000 of debt.

During her trial, Balmer accused the victims of trying to pass off their debts on to her.

Stephen Requena, prosecuting, said: “The customers whose evidence we heard were friends in some instances. They were financially vulnerable and vulnerable in other respects.”

The customers were left with debts ranging from £1,000 to £5,700, totalling £14,900. One victim was disabled while another was heavily pregnant.

Caroline Moonan, mitigating, said Balmer had always intended to pay back the debt and likened the case to a mortgage fraud.

The court heard she paid back more than £10,000 before she was caught and has since paid back the balance. The firm has written off the debt owed by the customers.

Judge Ian Graham said despite her lack of previous convictions and the fact the money was paid back, a prison sentence was “unavoidable”.

He said: “The loans were made in their names, they were liable for repayments, but they gave the cash benefit to you.

“You initially made the repayments yourself, but they became intermittent and eventually petered out.

“Why you did it remains unclear. Why the customers agreed to this arrangement remains unclear. But it is to my judgment an indication of their vulnerability.

“Blame wrongly placed on others has been a feature of this case and you have persisted with that. It was an unattractive defence.

“You took advantage of those who trusted you and you took advantage of your employer, who trusted you.”

Balmer was jailed for 12 months for each count, to run at the same time.