Businessman carries out £700k Boots gift card scam in two months

Robert Bell was involved in the con after taking advantage of a secret loophole.

Businessman Robert Bell carries out £736,000 Boots gift card scam in two months Website

A businessman carried out a £736,000 Boots gift card scam in under two months.

Robert Bell was involved in the con after taking advantage of a secret loophole.

The 37-year-old was able to get the cards for free by filling out an order form and asked them to be loaded with credit without the intention of paying the cash back.

Jurors heard how a postman recalled a string of “special deliveries” to Bell’s apparent cash and carry firm run from a large hut at a business park in Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire.

Bell was eventually caught when he tried to obtain another £150,000 worth of gift cards.

He is now in jail after being convicted of being involved in a fraudulent scheme against Boots between September and November 2017.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard how the man was behind a wholesalers called Bells of Bishopbriggs.

In her closing speech, prosecutor Hannah Terrance told jurors: “Bell had no intention for paying for any of this credit.

“He exploited a loophole and made false pretences as part of the fraudulent scam.”

The gift card amounts Bell, now of the city’s Tollcross, illegally got his hands on varied including for £7500.

Bell spent over half a million pounds of the gift cards across 30,000 transactions.

Ms Terrance told the court: “His postman described his business premises as a hut.

“All he could tell was that Bell was there receiving regular special deliveries.”

The trial heard Bell was eventually “stopped in his tracks” on November 27, 2017, following a bid to get another £150,000 of gift cards.

The huge sum has never been paid back to Boots. It is not known what the money was spent on.

Bell instead told police he had applied for the cards in order to give them as a gift to staff and as a “customer incentive”.

He claimed to have 40 employees – but the postman who made the deliveries said he only witnessed one person working there.

Boots initially contacted Bells when the fraud was uncovered but he never replied.

The company was able to cancel the rest of the cards due to their unique serial numbers.

David Adams, defending, told jurors that Bell was unaware about the system error at Boots.

He added: “This was not a crime.

“Boots allowed him to do this due to an error on their part.

“His business had cashflow problems, his customers were not paying him and he could not pay the suppliers – one of which was Boots.”

Sheriff Paul Reid remanded Bell in custody as sentencing was deferred for reports.