Thursday, 24 March 2022

Dad dubbed 'Fraud of the Skies' stole £25k from duty free

A Dad dubbed 'Fraud of the Skies' stole £25k from duty free with in-flight loophole

Keith James, 63, stole items including perfume, alcohol and cigarettes, in hundreds of transactions over three years and was dubbed the 'Fraud of the Skies' over a series of flights between Manchester and his second home in Spain. 

He was dubbed the "Fraud of the Skies" and it came to an end when he was arrested at Manchester Airport. James, who believed he was terminally ill with bladder cancer, used bank cards with no credit facilities after realising online transactions could only be processed after planes landed, a court heard.

Between May 2016 and April 2019 the married father-of-six would fill his bags with items from the duty-free trolley onboard then, after touching down at the airport, would make a quick getaway before the cabin crew downloaded passenger purchases. They would then find his transactions had been rejected due to "insufficient funds''.

At one point, Jet2 tried to ban the rogue customer from their flights, but he got around it by using his middle name on boarding passes.

James, from Wythenshawe, ignored legal letters demanding payment and even kept flying with the same operators but he was eventually arrested at Manchester Airport as he got off a flight from Spain.

He later admitted hundreds of illicit mid-flight transactions for pleasure claiming he wanted to ''get one over'' on the banks claiming they were ''keeping customers in debt".

He said he had gifted all the stolen items, which also included sunglasses and aftershave, to his family. The total amount of goods he stole was worth £25,556.40. ($33,746 Australian)

In a statement, James said: ''I've been an idiot haven't I. But the diagnosis has taken its toll on me mentally and physically and I felt the radiotherapy and chemo had done me in and made me a bit bitter and twisted.

''I was genuinely giving things away as it made people happy.

"Giving away a bottle of nice perfume was making me happy. I didn't know how long I had left and I liked doing this. I realise it was wrong I shouldn't be doing it. But at the time I was treating each day as my last and didn't think of the consequences - I regret it now and haven't done it since.''

Jet2 lost £12,459.50 ($21,941 Australian) during the racket while the now-shuttered Thomas Cook lost £13,100.19. ($23,069 Australian)

At Minshull Street Crown Court, James who is still undergoing twice-yearly treatment for his illness admitted eight charges of fraud by false representation and was given 12 months jail suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to wear an electronic tag for six months as part of a 7pm-7am curfew.

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