"Who wouldn't? Who is honest these days?"
Allah Ditta, aged 49, of Bradford, was jailed for two years and three months at Bradford Crown Court on Friday, January 4, 2019, for attempting to get away with almost £60,000 of free shopping.
It was heard Ditta had exploited a fault with his debit card which meant transactions were approved when they should not have been.
Ditta realised he could use his card in this way when a transaction for £68 was approved on January 21, 2018, at a Tesco store in Low Moor, Bradford.
Prosecutor Sophie Drake told the court: “The transaction should have declined because he didn’t have enough funds and he should have known that.
“The person on the checkout wasn’t aware of the fault and the transactions were approved.
“Ditta realised something was wrong and dashed to another store in Bradford to try the same trick again.”
Despite having no funds in his account, Ditta then went on a shopping spree at Tesco supermarkets across the north of England.
The court heard he even loaned the card to friends and together they bought electrical items, phones, computers, gift cards and obtained cash back in store.
The debit card was used 167 times at 14 Tesco supermarkets in Bradford, Leeds, Garforth, Oldham and Manchester. Ditta bought items worth £56,683.
Mrs Drake said Ditta continued his spending until he was arrested at a Tesco branch in Bradford on February 15, 2018.
He was with his adult son at the time and told police he was not aware he had done anything wrong. When he was interviewed by officers, he said: “Who wouldn’t? Who is honest these days?”
Geraldine Kelly, defending, stated that Ditta was going through a tough time in his life when he carried out the crime.
She said: “This period of offending represents a very sorry time in his life.
“He has been a drug addict for 30 years, but despite that had been married for 40 years. As it was, that drug addiction led to the breakdown of his marriage.
“He was unable to see his wife and daughter and was homeless. Most of the sales of these items he purchased through this went towards his addiction.
“It is with great sadness that he is in custody and not able to see his daughter at all and will not be able to see her for a long time in the future.”
Ditta has had multiple convictions in the past, including three in the last year for shoplifting, burglary and theft. He pleaded guilty to the fraud on December 31, 2018.
Judge Robert Bartfield said: “Through a malfunction in the software you discovered that a transaction of £68 which you were attempting to complete on your debit card in Bradford indicated to you, that for some reason, the appropriate checking facility was not working.
“That is to say you had no funds in your account and ordinarily your transaction would have been declined because you didn’t have the grounds to pay.
“You were not slow to see the opportunity this offered because it dawned on you that if it was going to malfunction on this occasion, it was going to malfunction again and you milked it for all it was worth.
“Either yourself or people who were acting with you visited Tesco stores across the North of England.
“Altogether there was some 14 different branches or town approached and 167 transactions.
“I recognise that you are addicted to drugs and your family has split. At the time of this case you were homeless and were doing this to mainly feed your addiction.”
Allah Ditta was sentenced to two years and three months in prison. It was not clear if the software fault was at Tesco stores or with the bank.