Sheffield call centre employee jailed for stealing over £36k through fraudulent refunds

A Sheffield call centre employee who stole more than £36,000 from the company he worked for after racking up gambling debts has been jailed for 12 months.

Friday, 31st May 2019, 6:27 pm

30-year-old Nathan Smith had worked for the Dixons Carphone call centre in Sheffield ‘without a single blemish on his record,’ when he began stealing from the company in August 2016.

During a hearing held today, Sheffield Crown Court was told how Smith, of Swanborne Road, Parson Cross, stole the money by making fraudulent refund transactions to three of his bank and credit card accounts.

Prosecutor, Kevin Jones, said: “The refunds started small, in terms of monetary value, with sums of £85. It gradually increased, going from £85 to £150, then up between £500 to £1,500.

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Nathan Smith was jailed during a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court today (Tuesday, May 28)
Nathan Smith was jailed during a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court today (Tuesday, May 28)

“And then towards the end [of his offending period] up to £2,500.

“The customer details that were used were to enable these refunds were falsified.”

Between August 2016 and July 2017, when Smith was caught, he stole a total of £36,105 in 33 separate transactions.

Mr Jones told the court that refunds could be processed manually, and during a routine check it was noted there was some ‘suspicious activity’ in relation to work discounts applied to refunds put through by Smith.

“They made further enquiries and noted there were other discounts and other refunds relating to credit cards used by Mr Smith,” added Mr Jones.

When asked about the fraudulent transactions, Smith ‘immediately accepted’ he was responsible for the refunds, and made full admissions in police interview, the court heard.

Mr Jones said Smith’s accounts showed he had used the money to make ‘significant transactions’ to a number of betting sites

Smith pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by false representation at an earlier hearing.

Despite Smith making full admissions in interview in 2017, the case was only brought to court in January 2019.

Richard Jepson, defending, told the court that Smith’s former partner took out a number of catalogue accounts in his name, due to having a bad credit rating.

He said she then ‘disappeared,’ leaving him with the substantial debts she had accrued.

“His stress levels increased, he had no way of paying it back, and fell back into an old online gambling addiction,” said Mr Jepson.

He added that Smith had, ‘quite rightly’ lost his job as a result of the fraud.

Other than repaying the gambling debts he owed, Mr Jepson said Smith had gained nothing from his offending, other than the risk of going to prison.

Judge Peter Kelson QC sentenced Smith to 12 months in prison.

He said: “Yours is an addiction to online gambling, and it led to you committing these very serious crimes, simply to fund it. It may have started as a hope you had to pay a debt you were left with.”

Judge Kelson continued by asking Mr Jones to request a letter from the Crown Prosecution Service in South Yorkshire, explaining why it had taken so long for the case to be brought to court.

- South Yorkshire Police have been asked to provide a custody image of Smith