A crooked sales assistant for WHSmith who secretly recorded customers’ credit card details using a camera hidden inside a carton of Ribena has walked free from court.
Shazed Ali, 26, conned shoppers at a busy train station branch into handing over their cards by pretending there was a problem with them.
The law graduate would then hold the cards up to the pinhole camera he had concealed inside the drinks carton so it could record their details.
A court heard that he captured information from 20 unwitting customers at the Birmingham New Street branch before his scam was rumbled.
Birmingham Crown Court heard that Ali used the stolen card details to buy low-value items which went unnoticed on his victims’ bank statements.
He even had one purchase – a £20 memory stick – delivered to a neighbour’s house to avoid detection.
But the fraudster was caught out when he tried to buy a laptop – causing the concerned cardholder to alert police.
At a preliminary hearing a district judge said Ali, from Saltley, West Mids., had committed a “horrific breach of trust” and described his offences as “sophisticated” with “a degree of pre-planning”.
But he was spared jail on Tuesday after a judge heard that he had no previous convictions and his girlfriend was pregnant.
Ali, who pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud, was slapped with a community order, 100 hours of paid work and ordered to pay £475 court costs.
Financial Investigator DC Michael Irwin, said: “His trick was to claim there was a problem with the card and ask to see it, once the shopper handed it over he’d slyly hold it next to the carton so the pin-head camera could record the card numbers.
“We know that he successfully bought a computer memory stick valued at £20 and had it delivered to a neighbours’ address, he may well have made other low-value fraudulent thefts that card holders have simply not spotted on their statements.
“People are generally trusting, you can understand why no-one was suspicious anything underhand was going on as this man worked for a well-known high street store.
“Our advice is to always be very protective of your card details, it’s advisable not to physically hand over your bank card when paying and certainly not to let it out of your sight.”