Baby milk scam pair from Hatfield face deportation

A CHINESE man and woman face deportation after admitting a sophisticated card fraud that involved shipping cartons of baby milk back home.

Xin Shi and Jie Chen were part of a gang involved in the scam that involved buying baby milk in branches of Boots on gift cards which had been fraudulently loaded with extra credit.

The milk was then being shipped back to China where it was sold for a premium.

It was in demand following the scandal in 2008 when milk formula there was contaminated with melamine.

Prosecutor Ann Evans told St Albans Crown Court police traffic officers noticed an Audi A4 car in a poor condition on April 24 last year. It had no insurance.

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She said: “This stop was the start of a police operation which discovered a large conspiracy to buy goods with counterfeit bank cards perpetrated by these two defendants and others.”

Shi and Chen’s then address in Endymion Mews, Hatfield, was searched.

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“The flat contained a large amount of equipment. There were items that were used for the manufacture of counterfeit cards including embossing machines and a magnetic strip device,” said Mrs Evans.

A computer seized had on it 460 foreign bank card numbers, obtained from sites in Lithuania and Russia.

Genuine Boots gift cards had been purchased by the gang and these had been loaded with between �200 and �250 from the foreign bank card numbers.

Receipts showed �480.35 and �530.14 had been spent at two different branches of Boots in WGC on April 19, 2010.

After being bailed, the two defendants moved to Chapel Street in Luton – from where they carried out further frauds at shops in Luton, Norwich and Liverpool.

Mrs Evans added: “It was a very sophisticated operation.”

Shi, 29, and Chen, 23, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud between April 18 and August 18 last year.

Defence barrister John Traversi said Shi came to the UK on a visitor’s visa and was likely to be sent back to China by the Home Secretary.

John King, for Chen, said she had not been involved in the production of the cards and had “simply gone shopping.”

Judge Stephen Gullick passed a sentence of 305 days on each defendant, meaning they will be due for immediate release because of their time spent on remand.

He said: “This was a serious and sophisticated fraud. You had equipment to produce good counterfeit cards and it was persistent dishonesty.

“You will be released but whether you remain in this country is a matter for the Home Secretary and not for me.”

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