A man from Peterborough who was part of an organised gang who manipulated receipts from John Lewis has appeared at crown court for sentencing.
The group defrauded the company in stores as far apart as Glasgow to London to an amount of over £300,000 by returning goods multiple times that were either stolen or that had been obtained through online fraud. The investigation involved four police forces over three years. Members of the group were jailed for a total of 13 years and two months.
Asadullah Ahmadi (40) of Gloucester Place, London was sentenced to four years six months in his absence, said to have absconded to Dubai.
Bana Habtegiorgis (28) of, Saville Road, Peterborough, who was on licence, was sentenced to 12 months, Brent Rifhat Azim (48) of Hillfield Avenue, London was sentenced to two years six months, Rahmatullah Ahmadi (40) Kilburn High Road,Camden, London was sentenced to three years and Hayat Ahmed (31) of Finchley Road, London was sentenced to 16 months.
Sentencing them at Blackfriars Crown Court, His Honour Judge Blacksell QC said: "Your offending involved abuse of a system in operation practiced by John Lewis in order that fellow citizens could have confidence in the way in which they purchased articles, knowing they could return them and get credit or a refund for the items.
"What you did was manipulate that system; it having come to your attention either through working in the retail sector or because you, as a genuine customer, realised it could be exploited."
A Serious Crime Prevention Order for a period of 5 years was made in respect of each defendant prohibiting him or her from entering any John Lewis department store or Waitrose supermarket.
CPS Senior Crown Prosecutor Teresa Perry said: "The fact this sophisticated, highly professional fraud has been unravelled and the planners brought to justice is thanks to the dedication of agencies coming together across the spectrum to ensure that those who commit these crimes are brought to justice.
"Today's outcome should send a very clear message - justice will be done and you will be made to face the consequences of your actions."