Shropshire businessman defrauded Royal Mail by underpaying on parcel postage
A businessman defrauded Royal Mail out of more than £1,000 after underpaying the postage on parcels he was sending to customers.
Simon James Lucas, the owner of Bridgnorth Delicatessen, sent 112 parcels via a Royal Mail online account but underpaid the postage by printing off pre-paid stamps for just a fraction of the true cost.
Lucas, from Apley Forge, Telford, pleaded guilty at Telford Magistrates' Court yesterday to obtaining services dishonestly under the Fraud Act 2006, section 11.
As well as the delicatessen, he also runs internet-based company Great British Trading Limited and used the Royal Mail online service SmartStamp, to set up an online account for advanced payment.
Lucas, 46, used Amazon to sell food produce and offered free postage to customers worldwide before printing off the pre-paid postage stamps with values of just 60 p or 88p, when many parcels were found to cost more than £20 to send.
Lucas posted 112 parcels and deliberately failed to pay the correct postage. The scam was detected following random checks at the Royal Mail centre in Wolverhampton.
Prosecuting on behalf of Royal Mail, John Dove, said: "Mr Lucas committed a series of frauds against Royal Mail where he grossly undervalued the cost and had painted correction fluid over the true value of the stamp. Lucas had undervalued the postal of 112 parcels, totalling £1,107.19
Following the seizure of the parcels, Mr Lucas was arrested and interviewed by Royal Mail where he admitted using undervalued stamps and paid back the owed postal amount in full.
Defending, Mr Jonathan Mison, said Mr Lucas was "deeply ashamed" and had acted "out of desperation" because he didn't know which way to turn due to severe financial difficulties and business debts.
Mr Mison added: "The offence took place over a short period of time where Lucas was not thinking straight. The plan was so unsophisticated the original postage cost was covered with correction fluid."
Chairman of magistrates Quinta Brown said: "We would normally be looking at a community sentence if not custody. However, in this case we are going to make the unusual sentence of conditional discharge for three years, which shows how serious we take this offence." Lucas was also ordered to pay £2,500 costs and £15 victim surcharge.
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