Two Transport for London call centre workers stole more than £15,000 by signing off dozens of bogus claims for Oyster card refunds, a court heard.
Ainsley Cornel Dobbs, 32, and Melissa Cantoni, 25, set up fake identities and email addresses to siphon off the money while working at the TfL call centre in Greenwich.
They authorised Oyster refunds to fictional customers, diverting funds into their own bank accounts and to friends and family.
The “sophisticated” scam, which went on for seven months, was eventually uncovered after an internal investigation by TfL bosses, prosecutor Mark Hunsley told Blackfriars crown court.
“These defendants were processing artificial refunds to their own accounts or to the accounts of people connected to them,” he said.
Father of two Cornel Dobbs was ordered to complete 150 hours’ community service (Tony Palmer)
“The refunds were for those who did not correctly tap in or out, or for cancelling travel cards and season tickets. These refunds are either paid to the bank or to the online Oyster card account to be withdrawn or used for other travel.
“TfL had been reviewing systems and accounts for unusual patterns of high value refunds. The investigation led to these two defendants.”
The court heard Dobbs started the scam in September 2017, making 57 fraudulent transactions totalling £12,634, and he recruited co-worker Cantoni who made a further nine transactions worth £2,847.
Incriminating messages asking friends and family members for bank details were found on their phones after their arrests in June last year, the court heard. Martin Taylor, representing Italian national Cantoni, said it was an “act of ridiculous folly” to join in the fraud, but she wanted to help pay off her partner’s gambling debts.
Dobbs is “more than sorry” for orchestrating the scam, his barrister Anthony Heaton-Armstrong said, urging the court not to jail the “kind and helpful” father of two.
Judge Alexander Milne QC told the pair they had narrowly avoided going to prison, as he gave Dobbs a 14-month suspended jail sentence and Cantoni a six-month suspended sentence.
“It was a cynical and well thought-out fraud over a considerable period of time, breaching a position of trust placed in both of you,” he said.
Dobbs, of Barking, and Cantoni, from Hornsey, admitted fraud by abuse of position. Dobbs was ordered to complete 150 hours’ community service and Cantoni 100 hours. Both were also told to pay £640 in costs and fees.
Source Evening Standard
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
EuroStar Taxi Rank, Midland Road....is to close from 13th March until 12th April, for construction work. Passengers will be directed out of the Pancrass Road exit across the carriageway where all the buses have been diverted, to the Kings Cross Station Rank....
So passengers have to leave the station, walk the gauntlet of the parked up touting Privat Hire drivers, pass the undercover cops trying to nick cabbies for touching their phones and make their way to the point of the feeder rank, totally bemused by the fact there is another rank just yards in front by the entrance of Kings Cross drop off point......As yet, there is no word from TfL about where the feed to the rank will go (could be Goodsway or Camely Street) ....You really couldn't make it up, stand by for more utter chaos.