The Pussycat Molls! Three sisters who ran all-female fraud gang jailed
The Pussycat Molls! Three sisters who ran all-female fraud gang are jailed after using stolen receipts and credit card numbers to scam almost £80,000 in designer clothes, beauty treatments and cash
- Lynsey Burdon and sisters Emmiline and Sarah were sentenced at court today
- The girl gang had admitted conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation
- They were arrested in May after 50 officers raided their homes in Manchester
- Lynsey and Emmiline jailed for over two years and Sarah sentenced to 18 weeks
Three sisters who ran an all-female fraud gang have been jailed after using stolen receipts and credit card numbers to scam almost £80,000 in designer clothes, beauty treatments and cash.
Lynsey Burdon, 36, and her sisters Emmiline, 29, and Sarah, 40, from Manchester, were sentenced at Chester Crown Court today after admitting conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
The girl gang were arrested in May after a team of 50 police officers raided their homes in North Manchester and seized an Audi car, motorcycle clothing, two electric scooters, designer watches and clothing, furniture and a quantity of cash.
Undated CCTV grabs issued by Cheshire Police showing Emmiline Burdon at Toni and Guy, Liverpool (left) and Lynsey at Beauty Unlimited, Lymm (right)
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.
Police identified more than 150 fraudulent transactions at various locations across the North West, Yorkshire and Leicestershire between October 2019 and May this year, with losses totalling more than £62,000.
Lynsey, pictured, was sentenced at Chester Crown Court for two years and two months for playing a ‘leading role’ in the conspiracy
While the women kept some of the items they bought fraudulently, on other occasions they would return to the stores and request a refund.
They would then put their own payment card into the machine so that the money would go into their own personal bank accounts netting them more than £16,000 worth of fraudulent refunds.
The prosecutor said: ‘Occasionally they would book hotel rooms and then go to reception saying a family emergency had forced them to cancel. They would then present a different card and enter the amount into their own accounts.
‘At the end of the day audit their victims would discover the frauds. ‘On other occasions the defendants would not even use credit cards. Occasionally they would pick up a card device knowing how it operated and enter a default PIN and be able to refund themselves for whatever they wanted. This would be discovered at the end of the day when machines were checked.
‘They took £400 from Build a Bear using this method, £500 from a florist the same way and also £600 from a tyre fitter store.’
He added: ‘CCTV from a Toni and Guy shows Emiline Burdon distracting a worker at Toni and Guy. Lynsey Burdon leans over the counter trying to steal a till receipt. She was unsuccessful on this occasion.
‘They obtained £1,000 of gift vouchers when Lynsey Burdon enters a digit into the card machine and the shop worker realises there is a limit to the amount she could get. The shop worker offers her a refund and they can only get £1,000 into the card machine.
Handout photo issued by Cheshire Police of Emmiline, left and Lynsey, right. The court heard the women stole till receipts and used the card details on them to make purchases
‘The defendants were involved in a large number of transactions between October 2019 and May 2020. The total value was in excess of £50,000 from 135 transactions overall. Many of the affected businesses were small.’
In a statement Phill Sergeant of Millennium Motorcycles in St Helen’s said: ‘Some time after this occurred we were made aware of the scam and I was suspended for a week by my manager. My mental health dropped and I became depressed.
‘At a disciplinary hearing I was told I could keep my job but was placed on warning and given a probation period. This was because the fraudsters did not care about the consequences of their actions. I nearly lost my job.’
In mitigation Lynsey Burdon’s lawyer, Christopher Hunt, said: ‘There have been a number of issues in her life which seem to stem from her low self-worth and more personal reasons.
‘This has led her into relationships where she has been on the receiving end of abuse from numerous partners. She has also abused cocaine and desperation was involved in her offending and it was inevitable she would be caught.’
For mother-of-one Emmiline, defence lawyer Lloyd Morgan said: ‘She was not living a lavish lifestyle and it appears some of the money was being transferred to other people.’
Emmiline using stolen credit card details at the Westside Convenience store in Crewe, Cheshire. Members of a girl crime gang nicknamed the ‘Pussycat Molls’ were jailed today
Lynsey using stolen credit card details in Arthur Lee antiques in Knutsford, Cheshire. After payments were made the women would return purchased items or cancel hotel stays
Lynsey, right, and sister Emmiline using stolen credit card details at the London Road restaurant in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. The sisters were arrested in May this year
Lynsey using stolen credit card details at the Alderley Edge hotel in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. The court heard the women stole till receipts and used the card details on them
For mother-of-two carer Leanne, Rachel Faux said: ‘Her financial gain was limited and she did not benefit directly from all the money that cane into her account. Her offending was a result of the personal anguish she was going through.’
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 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.
Lynsey and Emmiline, left, using stolen credit card details at a shop in Horns Bridge, Chesterfield and Lynsey, right, using stolen details at a TUI holiday shop in Liverpool
Lynsey using stolen credit card details in the Hinton Guest House in Mobberley, Cheshire. On other occasions, the court heard, one would distract a sales assistant while another put through a refund to their own account
Lynsey an sister Emmiline using stolen credit card details in the Courthouse restaurant in Knutsford. Police identified more than 150 fraudulent transactions at various locations
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, who appeared via video-link 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 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.’
The women will face a Proceeds of Crime hearing later.
‘Even being in a coronavirus lockdown did not stop the women in their pursuit for luxury life’
After the case Det Con Claire Heatley from Cheshire Police said: ‘The sentences handed to these women reflects the severity of the crimes that they committed.
‘Over an eight month period they systematically siphoned more than £45,000 from the accounts of innocent members of the public by purchasing items using stolen account details.
‘They even had the audacity claim refunds of a number of these items and had the money put into their own personal accounts. This resulted in the group receiving more than £16,000.
‘Even being in a lockdown during the coronavirus crisis did not stop the women in their pursuit for the luxury life.
‘When high street stores were closed, they started targeting off-licences and petrol stations where they purchased large quantities of alcohol and cigarettes along with hundreds of pounds worth of Lottery tickets.
‘Thankfully, their illegal spending spree has been stopped and they are all now facing the consequences of their actions.’
Det Ch Insp Clare Coleman, Crime Manager at Cheshire Constabulary, 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.’
Detective Sergeant Paul Kay, from Merseyside Police’s Economic Crime Team, said: ‘This type of fraud is not victimless as the majority of these fraudulent transactions were charged-back to the store making them the loser and in some cases the loss to the store was greater than their weekly turnover.
‘Also a number of staff members who dealt with the fraudsters were given written warnings for conducting the transactions and in one case particular a member of staff was suspended and nearly sacked for not identifying the fraudulent transactions.’
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