back to article Supermarket techie in mega loyalty-point blag

A London IT worker has been found guilty of fraud offences related to scamming supermarket Sainsbury's out of loyalty points worth £70,000. James Stevenson, 45, of Muswell Hill, was a lead analyst programmer for Sainsbury's and used his position to set up several different accounts to collect the Nectar reward points. …

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  1. Feldspa
    Joke

    bogof

    Maybe he will get two years for the price of one!

  2. Tony S

    It happens

    @ Feldspa - every little helps!

    As it happens, back in the early 70s, I was working for a large retail chain, and someone there set-up a scam involving Green Stamps (remember them?). Somehow, the comapny security people thought it was me, and I had a very unpleasant interview with the security director who was an ex Met senior Officer.

    It ended up with him threatening me with calling the police to take my fingerprints - I then lost my temper and stood up to him, and suggested we do just that. To cut a rather long story short, they realised they had the wrong person, and to keep me from suing the arse off them, I was offered a more senior job and a pay rise!

  3. Malcolm 1

    Nectar

    I strongly suspect this is the only mechanism for accumulating enough nectar points to do anything remotely useful.

    After several years collecting them I think I have enough for a one-way ticket to Basingstoke.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Nectar

      A one way ticket to Basingstoke from where? For anywhere much further away than Bramley, that can cost a lot of money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        sorry, couldn't resist...

        Surely its the ticket *from* Basingstoke thats expensive.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      HUH?

      What's wrong with Amazingstoke? At least they blanket gritted everything when the first flake of snow fell this month. Talk about panicking lol

      Liquid and Tonic...... well thats another thing altogether.......

    3. Roger Greenwood

      "one-way ticket to Basingstoke"

      Is that the sentence he'll get? wow, some judges are tough.

  4. gerryg

    life imitates art

    I recall some story or other where a bank account was set up with a name beginning zz into which was filtered the fractions of a penny (cent?) arising from interest calculations on all the other bank accounts only discovered when a customer with a name beginning zz opened an account.

    1. thesykes

      Wasn't that

      Richard Prior in one of the Superman films?

    2. Framitz
      Thumb Up

      A long time ago

      The fractions of a cent incident happened back in the 60's if I remember correctly.

    3. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
      Boffin

      Aardvark to zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      No, what happened is that the bank was going to run a promotion along the lines of "accounts for aardvark to ???????" and want to know what was the first and the last (alphabetically sorted) names of people in the bank and got suspicious when the found an account where the names was all Zs.

      Can't have been a very good programmer, he forgot to check for boundary conditions i.e. when setting up bogus accounts, pick a common name (John Smith etc)

    4. mark fernandes

      Billion Dollar Bubble

      Probably Billion Dollar bubble (1976) Equity Funding Corporation of America(Los Angeles) fraud.

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074206/

      Watched that at school in O-level Computer Studies as probably did the Script-writer of Sperman III...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Does you have a Nectar card Sir...?

    "Yeah baby; stick with me, and anything you want from Argos could be yours!"

  6. Peter Jones 2

    Im guessing..

    but it's likely this was just a larger version of the same practices done by workers at petrol stations, supermarkets and other places with such loyalty schemes: swiping their own card when a customer doesn't participate in the scheme.

    I have seen this done hundreds of times, but on the smaller scale. One cashier picking up an extra 200-400 points per shift can net around 70,000 points a year. If a point is worth 1p (common supermarket exchange rate) it's a small increase on top of their minimum wage.

    1. LaeMing Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      That is a rather cool idea

      I wonder if I should offer the casher to use her (or his) own rewards card next time I go through the checkout. No skin off my nose there.

    2. Simon Neill

      Not at sainsburys

      Sainsburys at least list nectar balance before and after at the end of the reciept and also allow you to claim nectar points for previous shops if you produce a reciept without said.

    3. irrelevant

      pennies

      Nectar points are worth about 0.5p. So your 70,000 points are worth about £350 - hardly enough to risk losing a job over, especially as every receipt it's done on will get a nice running-total printed on the end of it to alert the customers.

    4. Mike Timbers

      can't be done

      There are systems that look for high points; if a cashier did that, it would very quickly be spotted and is a sacking offence. The cashiers know not to try this.

  7. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    FAIL

    And it's stories like this...

    That make me realise what a scam supermarket and credit card cashback schemes are.

    Why not just slap a barcode on your head and be done with it.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Scam 'em back.

      I lie thru' my teeth on the "application". Usually, I'm a black one-legged lesbian lumberjack who commutes to the Pacific Northwest on rollerblades (and the like). Every time I use cards like this, I know I'm helping to corrupt a corporate database in a small way.

      I also have a double handful of "found" cards that I use at random.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Tell them a story

        At work we trade the cards around. Single guy gets a card and uses it for a few months, pass it on to a married co-worker, then one with two babies, then the 50 year old single. At times we do it in reverse.

        And there is a box with a few extra cards that get used at random.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Want to get scarier...

      Many supermarkets now have connected Financial Services, things like Car Insurance and Life Insurance.

      Now how useful would it be to the insurer to know the food and drink products you buy on a regular basis.

      Bottle of Scotch a week? Possible drink driver risk?

      Doughnuts? Heart attack?

      Cigarettes? Claimed on his application he was a non-smoker.

  8. Neal 5

    @Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Tattoo surely, not slap.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Sounds familiar

    "Why does this sound familiar?"

    "Because it's the plot to Superman III"

    Mine's the one with the red Swingline in the pocket.

    1. Joefish
      Grenade

      Precisely.

      That film, with Richard Pryor getting off scott-free, even being endorsed by Superman himself, just encourages this kind of copy-cat crime. It's a moral outrage and should be banned immediately.

  10. JB
    Thumb Down

    Not sure...

    Not sure which is the bigger scam, this guy, or loyalty card schemes in general. Surely all that marketing info is worth ore than 0.0000000000000001p every week??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They don't need a loyalty card to track your habits

      Unless you have dozens of different debit cards or always pay in cash - in which case I am pretty sure they aren't interested in you anyway.

      Now, before anyone tells me that they can't (or at least shouldn't) track my personal details from a debit card - that is not the point. Supermarkets want you to buy shit, so they do this in two ways: either they try to con you into buying shit you don't want* or they try to make you buy more of the stuff you do want from them** rather than anyone else.

      The most important factors are buying trends - they will put you in a demographic from what you buy, they don't need to know who you are. In fact it is probably better for them that way - if your shopping habits are that of a 20 year old man but in real life you are an 80 year old woman then it is pointless them trying to sell you Saga magazines and knitting patterns if what you want is cheap lager and condoms.

      So, either they know all they need to know about you and they give you nothing directly in return or they know everything they need to know about you and they give you 1-2% back on your shopping plus the occasional money off coupon for stuff you actually buy?

      But, all that aside, ASDA manage pretty well with no loyalty scheme that I know about and at least they aren't Tesco.

      *such things as product placement and big shiny signs and the like

      **through targeted special offers, loyalty cards etc.

  11. TrevorH

    All that effort for so little reward

    He went to all that risk for roughly 9k a year? You sure his name wasn't kermit?

  12. Bill 21
    WTF?

    do what?

    Lost me here - is that £8K or £80K - in 8 years?

  13. Jim_2

    @Lee

    Asda aren't Tesco, but they are owned by Walmart...

  14. buckie
    Big Brother

    Taxman

    I'd be wary of dumping other people's points into my card (if I had one)... My memory is failing but didn't the taxman sequester the activity on some poor unfortunate's Nectar card a few years ago as evidence in a case of suspected misdeclaration of income?

  15. Your Retarded
    Go

    Collecting £73,000 worth of Nectar points

    Would involve spending about £7.3m at Sainsbury's under normal circumstances (as you get double points at the orange supermarket)!

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