THREE ‘selfish’ sisters who stole till receipts and used the printed card details to buy luxury goods in Knutsford, Wilmslow, Northwich and elsewhere have been jailed.

Vehicles, designer watches and clothing were among the goods bought in a £62,000 fraud committed by Sarah, Lynsey and Emmiline Burdon, along with 37-year-old Sonia Malhi.

The three sisters pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and were jailed at Chester Crown Court today, August 4.

Malhi, of Hobson Crescent, Audenshaw, also pleaded guilty and will be sentenced at a later date.

Sion ap Mihangell, prosecuting, told the court how the fraudsters stole till merchant receipts from restaurants, spas and hotels.

They would then attend high-end stores and restaurants, including businesses in Mobberley, Northwich, Knutsford and Alderley Edge, to purchase goods using the payment card details from the stolen receipts.

Knutsford Guardian:

Emmiline and Lynsey at The Courthouse, Knutsford

They would initially use damaged cards and then use factory codes on card machines to refund themselves whatever sum they wanted while other group members distracted employees.

Sarah, 40, of Evesham Road, Lynsey, 36, of Brynorme Road and Emmiline, 29, of Riverdale Road, were all arrested on May 13 when a team of 50 Cheshire officers executed warrants at their properties, as well as Malhi’s.

A number of items were recovered, including an Audi car, motorcycle clothing, two electric scooters, designer watches and clothing, furniture and a quantity of cash.

Emmiline and Lynsey both stole merchant till receipts from London Road Restaurant in Alderley Edge, while Emmiline was convicted for driving while disqualified and without insurance in Northwich and Sproston and obstructing a police officer in Sproston.

Lynsey also stole merchant till receipts from Arthur Lee Interiors in Knutsford.

From the initial offence on December 17, officers were able to identify more than 150 fraudulent transactions at various locations across the north west, Yorkshire and Leicestershire between October 2019 and May 2020, with losses totalling more than £62,000.

Knutsford Guardian:

Lynsey at the Alderley Edge Hotel

Items targeted included designer clothing, power tools, high performance car parts, motorcycles and motorcycle accessories.

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.

The group received more than £16,000 worth of fraudulent refunds from doing this.

On other occasions, they would book hotel rooms and cancel them shortly after, claiming a family emergency and getting money refunded to their own bank account.

Their actions would often be to the detriment of staff, with a victim statement heard from an employee of Millennium Motorcycles in St Helens.

Knutsford Guardian:

Lynsey at Arthur Lee, Knutsford

He said: “I was suspended from my job due to an investigation taking place.

“My mental health deteriorated and I thought I would be losing my job. I was informed that I would be keeping my job, but I was given a written warning and was put on probation.”

Those defending the sisters told the court of the trio’s difficult upbringing and the 12 weeks they have already spent in custody.

Chris Hunt, defending Lynsey, said: “A prison sentence at the moment is different to what it was this time last year.

“The defendants have been confined to their cells for 23-and-a-half hours a day, have not had visitors and have not been able to take part in courses which have helped in the past.”

Before sentencing, Judge Steven Everett said: “This was a significantly well planned operation by a relatively significant team.

Knutsford Guardian:

Lynsey and Emmiline at London Road Restaurant, Alderley Edge

“You walked into shops in a group after planning to steal from small businesses, brazen about what you were doing. This required a lot of gall.

“We have heard about your disadvantaged backgrounds, but you cannot live off this all your life.

“You should have had more empathy for shopkeepers and employees such as the one who nearly lost his job. All you thought about was your selfish desire to get money.”

Sarah was jailed for 18 weeks, Lynsey for two years and two months, and Emmiline for 22 months for the conspiracy and an additional six months for disqualified driving.

She was also disqualified from driving for a further 12 months.

In February, officers from Cheshire Merseyside Police’s Economic Crime Team launched a joint investigation into an organised crime group which was committing payment card fraud in the Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside areas.

Knutsford Guardian:

Lynsey at Hinton Guest House, Mobberley

Following the sentencing Det Con Claire Heatley from Northwich Local Policing Unit, who led the investigation, 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.”

Det Chf Insp Clare Coleman, Crime Manager at Cheshire Constabulary, added: “The women committed the offences in order to fund their lavish lifestyles, buying expensive clothing, perfumes and designer sunglasses.

Knutsford Guardian:

Emmiline at Cuddington News

“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.

“Thankfully, as a result of the joint investigation by officers from Cheshire and Merseyside, three of the women are now behind bars.”

Following their sentencing, a proceeds of crime hearing will take place at a later date where a decision will be made regarding the seizure, and possible sale of, any assets owned by the women.