A former Mansfield Town player has been given a suspended prison sentence for defrauding a major high street chain out of more than £22,000.
Adam Smith, who currently plays for Alfreton Town, admitted fraudulently claiming £22,278.27 from TK Maxx stores nationwide between November 18 and December 22, 2015, when he appeared before Derby Crown Court.
In sentencing Smith, Judge Robert Egbuna told the 31-year-old that he had ‘used a sophisticated plan of deception’ in targeting the firm.
The court was told Smith, of Church Street North, Chesterfield, would spend hundreds of pounds on items on a credit card and then tell the cashier he had paid on the wrong card.
He would then be refunded and pay again with a second card, but retain the original receipt which he used to claim the cash back.
Sarah Slater, prosecuting, said sometimes that original receipt would be used “two or three times” to illegally claim back money.
Smith, who began his footballing career at Chesterfield and played for the Spireites for seven years, used four credit cards to carry out the transactions and also coerced two other people to fraudulently take goods back for refunds for him.
The footballer was snared when he was confronted at a store in Banbury, Oxfordshire, by a suspicious security guard who was watching him on CCTV.
He alerted the police who arrested Smith when they pulled him over on the M42 near Birmingham and discovered a folder containing receipts and clothing tags from a number of TK Maxx stores.
Smith’s solicitor Bob Sastry, said his client committed the offences at a time when his relationship with the mother of his two children, aged 10 and seven, broke down.
Mr Sastry said: “He was under considerable financial strain after no longer being given a full-time contract as a footballer.
“He had difficulty moving down the (footballing) ranks and that led to the break-up of his relationship with the mother of his two children.
“He now earns £350 per week and has a contract (with Alfreton) until the end of May. “That is the background to what led him to make the stupid decision to carry out this offending.”