A FRAUDSTER who fooled checkout staff into selling him televisions at slashed prices has been jailed for nine months.
Michael Wilson, of Arthur Street, Whitburn, switched the barcode stickers on 11 televisions with codes from cheaper models.
Durham Crown Court heard the 21-year-old went through the checkouts at Costco in Gateshead 11 times before the company noticed a discrepancy in the stock, which cost it more than £10,000.
Michael Graham, prosecuting, said: “Wilson would put a Samsung 55in set in his trolley.
“The barcode on the box was for a much cheaper 37in model, which was the price he paid.
“He partly obscured the box with other items such as bags of potatoes, presumably to make it less likely the assistant would notice the size of television he was buying.”
Wilson admitted fraud between January and February last year.
The court heard he has a previous conviction for fraud when he opened credit accounts at builders’ merchants, but did not pay for the goods.
Chris Morrison, defending, said: “Mr Wilson was only a minor player in the credit account fraud.
“He got into debt and was being pressed in a sinister manner by some of his creditors.
“The loan sharks have now been paid, so the motivation to offend again is not there.”
Jailing Wilson for nine months, Judge Simon Hickey said: “The total loss to Costco was more than £10,000.
“This was not just a one-off, it was a determined offence which you repeated many times.
“You were also on bail for another fraud in which builders’ merchants lost £25,000.
“An immediate custodial sentence is the only appropriate penalty.”