A TAX worker faces years behind bars for an elaborate scam to con her colleagues out of more than £160,000 cash and fund her lifestyle.

Ruth Kevan, 58, was working at HM Revenue and Customs, in Southend, and started the fraud in January, 2007.

She was eventually arrested in April.

Kevan, of Central Avenue, Southend, was responsible for running a bank savings club – a legitimate scheme to encourage people to save for Christmas and withdraw their money with added interest to buy their seasonal presents.

 Lesley Chipps, prosecuting, explained to Southend Magistrates’ Court: “She took control of the club.

"Then she e-mailed colleagues and offered a rate of interest above that offered by the bank.

“She inflated the interest to encourage people to save in the scheme.

“Several victims placed money in that account on the basis the interest rate was good.

“Mrs Kevan used the capital to pay interest to people and used it to support herself and her lifestyle.

“If there had been a run on the £200,000 investments and everyone wanted their money back, there wouldn’t have been sufficient funds to pay that.

“There would have been a shortfall of £160,000.”

Kevan pleaded guilty to 22 charges of fraud and one of theft.

She was warned she faces at least four years behind bars.

She was bailed to return to Basildon Crown Court for sentencing on November 4.