AN ADMITTED fraudster who conned Gravesham Council out of more than £57,000 narrowly avoided jail today (Jan 30).

Anastasia Zinkevich, formerly of Wrotham Road, received a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years at Maidstone Crown Court.

The 35-year-old, who owns the Riva Bar and Restaurant in Gravesend's Town Pier in West Street, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud on September 26 last year.

Zinkevich admitted she had used credit cards that did not belong to her and without the authorisation of the owner when settling debts with the council in relation to various charges and services.

The losses, between June 2011 and December last year, left the authority facing a large number of chargebacks by card providers when recalling funds paid fraudulently.

A Gravesham Council spokesman said: "Investigations into the case began when Gravesham Borough Council started to get an unusually high number of chargebacks against them, which is where the card providers recall monies paid that they believe have been paid fraudulently."

The Serious Economic Crime Unit at Kent Police was called in to help with the investigations which included an early morning raid on Zinkevich’s home in Wrotham Road.

Zinkevich's Gravesend restaurant was also the subject of an entire episode of Channel 4's Ruth Watson Means Business! programme which aired on December 11 last year and was also uploaded online.

The episode showed Riva bar does a roaring trade, but reviewers regularly complain about the restaurant's poor food, the chilly temperature and the rude reception from the owner.

Comments featured on the show included "absolute shambles of a restaurant", "not worth the price" and "absolutely freezing inside".

During the episode, Zinkevich told Ms Watson she spent more than £10,000 each year on heating the restaurant.

However, Channel 4 were quick to delete the programme and apologise after News Shopper pointed out the owner's criminal conviction.