Three men have been jailed after they were caught by Tesco pulling barcodes off cheap items and placing them on high-priced goods before walking away from the store and then returning for a refund at a different branch.
The trio pulled off the scam at 25 different Tesco stores across Wales and parts of southern England over a period of seven months. Their spree – which pocketed them more than £3,300 – only came to a halt when Tesco got wise to the scheme by studying CCTV footage.
The scam worked by peeling off barcode stickers from cheap items in stores and then sticking that same barcode onto goods with much higher values. At one store they took the items out of the shop after paying a fraction of the true price then travelled to a different Tesco branch to get a refund for the full amount, reports DevonLive.
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Police were called to a Tesco store in Exeter when the three men aroused suspicion as they tried to claim a fraudulent refund.
John Dymock, 34, of Surrey Avenue, Cheltenham, Aaron Cawley, 30, of Blenheim Square, Cheltenham, and Aaron Blake, 33, of Owls End Road, Cheltenham, admitted conspiracy to commit fraud and appeared at Exeter Crown Court.
Prosecutor Peter Coombe said that Dymock, Cawley, and Blake carried out the scam between November 2019 and June 2020 and managed to pull it off 25 times between them before supermarket security figured out what was happening and called police.
Dymock took part in 21 frauds and Cawley took part in 23 while Blake was only involved for a few weeks and a total of eight shop visits, the court heard. In defence barristers representing the trio said they were in need of money because of gambling or drug problems and had, over the past year, devoted themselves to working hard and looking after their respective families.
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However Judge Peter Johnson decided to jail all three men due to the serious nature of the crime.
“You visited shops over a wide geographical area, from Exeter to Milton Keynes and Eastbourne to Wrexham, and applied false barcodes to pay lesser amounts before obtaining refunds,” he said.
“It required planning and a considerable amount of travel. It is not just the sums involved. I regard offending of such a scale and nature as being so serious that it can only be met by immediate custody.”
Passing sentence Judge Johnson jailed Dymock and Cawley for 33 weeks and Blake for 20 weeks.
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