Three sisters defrauded small businesses out of more than £50,000 by stealing till receipts with card details on, a court has heard.
Lynsey Burdon, 36, and her sisters Emmiline, 29, and Sarah, 40, from Manchester, were sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday after admitting conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
Sion ap Mihangel, prosecuting, said: “The three defendants were all part of an organised group, to varying degrees, which operated in Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester, defrauding retail shops, restaurants, hotels and spas.
“The fraud occurred on a regular basis and continued despite the lockdown restrictions which came into effect in the UK in late March.”
The court heard the women stole till receipts and used the card details on them to make purchases, claiming their cards were damaged.
After payments were made the women would return purchased items or cancel hotel stays and ask for refunds to their own accounts, Mr ap Mihangel said.
On other occasions, the court heard, one would distract a sales assistant while another put through a refund to their own account on the card machine of a store.
The court heard between October 2019 and May this year they made 135 transactions, taking a total of more than £50,000.
Honorary Recorder of Chester Judge Steven Everett said: “It all required a lot of front.
“You had to be pretty brazen about what you did.”
He added: “It is important the public understands if you commit sophisticated offences of this type and you do dupe small shopkeepers you will go to prison.”
Lynsey Burdon, of Brynorme Road, was jailed for two years and two months for playing a “leading role” in the conspiracy.
Christopher Hunt, defending, said she had turned to drugs after being abused by partners and spent £140 every two days on cocaine.
The court heard the defendant, who wore an off the shoulder black top and was in tears as she was jailed, had 26 previous convictions for 114 offences.
Emmiline Burdon, of Riverdale Road, who appeared via videolink from HMP Styal, was jailed for a total of two years and four months for the conspiracy and for three offences of driving while disqualified.
Sentencing the eldest sister, Sarah Burdon, Judge Everett said: “If I had my way, I’d say don’t ever see your sisters again.
“They have been a bad influence on you.”
He jailed the mother-of-two, of Evesham Road, for 18 weeks for her lesser role in the scam.
The court heard she had already served 12 weeks on remand so would be released on licence.
The judge said: “As sisters you all come from the same background and it is quite obvious you had disadvantaged childhoods.
“You can’t live off that for the rest of your lives.”
Detective Chief Inspector Clare Coleman, from Cheshire Constabulary, said the frauds were carefully planned.
She said: “The women committed the offences in order to fund their lavish lifestyles, buying expensive clothing, perfumes and designer sunglasses.
“It is clear that they had no thought as to the impact of their actions on both the businesses they were targeting and the legitimate customers whose credit card details they decided to steal.”