‘Christmas had come early’ for con friends
THREE friends who conned Tesco out of nearly £50,000 of items including iPads and PlayStations told police: “It was like Christmas come early.”
Arek Pietrzak, Andre Farinha and Chloe Wilson were jailed at Cardiff Crown Court after they pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit fraud.
Judge Jeremy Jenkins described the offending as “serious”.
The court heard the fraud occurred between October 2015 and January 2016, when the defendants were living together at Commercial Street in Newport.
Nuhu Gobir, prosecuting, said Pietrzak, 24, from Cypress Street, Pontypridd, opened a TSB current account in a false name.
He told the court 73 orders worth more than £80,000 were placed with Tesco Direct during the three-month period.
Prosecutors said the defendants ordered “high end” electrical items, including laptops, mobile phones, iPads, PlayStations and Xboxes. They also ordered a gaming chair, washing machine and mountain bike.
Mr Gobir said some of the orders were not dispatched, but the defendants received goods worth £48,637.53 Tesco Direct.
The court heard the bank account was £3,000 overdrawn by mid-December 2015, but the orders were dispatched anyway and Tesco lost the money.
Mr Gobir added: “The orders were dispatched without the customer having the financial means to pay for them.”
The bank later reviewed the transactions and police visited the property on Commercial Street.
In her police interview, Wilson accepted signing for some deliveries, but denied any offending.
She told officers Pietrzak and Farinha would sometimes stay up all night ordering goods online, adding: “It was like Christmas come early for them.”
Wilson stated Pietrzak either sold the items on or gave them away as gifts. She claimed she felt like she was in trouble for something she had not done.
In his interview, Farinha blamed Tesco for their terms and conditions, and suggested they could have cancelled the orders.
Pietrzak answered the questions “no comment”, from but gave a prepared statement saying he had no intention of defrauding Tesco or the bank.
Eugene Egan, defending, said Pietrzak was “at a low ebb” at the time, having just broken up with a girlfriend.
He told the court: “He has made an effort to better his position.”
The defence barrister said his client now has a job and is in a steady relationship, with his girlfriend due to give birth to their first child next week.
Mr Egan asked for any prison sentence to be suspended, but Pietrzak was jailed for 25 months.
The court heard a relationship between Farinha, 28, and Wilson, 23, both from Commercial Street, ended last year.
Matthew Cobbe, defending Farinha said: “He has turned his life around.” Farinha was also jailed for 25 months.
Nigel Fryer, defending Wilson, said his client suffered from anxiety, but wanted to return to a career in hairdressing. She was jailed for 22 months.
Judge Jenkins said: “In my judgement, only an immediate custodial sentence is justified for this offending.”
A hearing will be held under the Proceeds of Crime Act on December 8.
Arek Pietrzak, Andre Farinha and Chloe Wilson conned Tesco out of nearly £50,000 of goods