Coles fleeced in $20,000 organised grocery scam
A CHECKOUT cashier in a Coles supermarket was among eight friends who carried out a risky scam to steal more than $20,000 in groceries.
An Ipswich court has heard how trolley loads of groceries were wheeled away in a convoy through checkout number 3, with the transactions immediately voided.
Appearing before Ipswich Magistrates Court, Lemalie Tuffy Faletua’i, 25, from Riverview, pleaded guilty to two counts of stealing from Coles supermarket at Redbank Plains on September 7, 2019; and on April 9 this year.
Her part in the offences alone involved more than $500 worth of groceries.
Prosecutor Sergeant Paul Caldwell told the court an investigation was carried out into 41 transactions by a female cashier involving $20,596 worth of groceries.
He said CCTV footage revealed the cashier would ‘void’ transactions involving seven people who acted in partnership.
Sgt Caldwell said this took place multiple times between September last year and April.
“They would attend at her cash register, and often in a convoy,” Sgt Caldwell said.
“Their transactions would be voided using tap and go payment.
“She was at checkout number 3. They would unload the trolley full of groceries and the transaction was then voided.
“It (one recorded incident) shows her paying $3.65 for a packet of Tim Tams.
“She left the store with all the groceries.”
Sgt Caldwell said the two stealing offences Faletua’i committed had involved groceries worth a total of $503.73.
She was later identified from CCTV by her then distinctive two-toned dyed hair.
Defence layer Kathryn Lohman said Faletua’i was born in Melbourne and had worked in fashion at one stage but had been working as a packer in a warehouse recently.
She had lost her job and was struggling financially, and was also 31 weeks pregnant.
Ms Lohman said Faletua’i’s friend assisted her in the offending.
She sought for the court not to record a conviction because of her prior unblemished record.
Magistrate Andy Cridland noted her lack of prior offending, saying she had not been the main player in the offending.
He fined Faletua’i $500 and ordered she pay $503.73 restitution. No conviction was recorded against her.