Friday, May 09, 2014


Senior British policewoman who defrauded High Street shops by buying breast pumps and fertility tests on eBay then returning them for a refund jailed for two and a half years

She put a lot of work into rather trivial frauds. Clearly not right in the head

A senior police officer has been jailed for a catalogue of petty frauds after tricking High Street stores in to giving full refunds for discounted luxury items.

Tanya Brooks was a chief inspector at Surrey Police when she carried out the scams, netting more than £11,000 by targeting household names including the White Company, Micro Scooters and Boots.

Among the items she bought on the cheap and used for her refund fraud were breast pumps, fertility tests and cashmere blankets.

Now she is starting a two and a half year jail term after a judge condemned her for bringing 'shame' on the police service.

Sentencing the 46-year-old at Winchester Crown Court, Judge Andrew Barnett said: 'By your criminal activities, you have disgraced the uniform you once wore, you have brought shame on the force that you once served and you will have tarnished the reputation of the police service.

The mother-of-four, who worked under her maiden name of Sillett, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to five charges of fraud by false representation and three of making an article used in fraud.

A further five offences which she denied were ordered to lie on file.

A further two charges of acting with intent to prejudice/defraud HM Revenue and Customs which were due to be heard at a third trial will also now lie on file.

Brookes, of Nursery Road, Godalming, Surrey, was also previously found guilty following a trial of nine offences of making an article used in fraud, 14 of fraud and two of converting criminal property.

She was found not guilty of a further two offences.

Nicholas Tucker, prosecuting, said at the start of the first trial how Brookes, who was also married to another senior police officer, David, had joined the Surrey force as a university graduate and he described her as a 'high-flyer'.

He said that it was as she was about to mark her 20 years’ service in July 2011 that she became the subject of an investigation by her own force.

In his opening of the case, Mr Tucker said one of Brookes’s main targets was The White Company.

He said that she would buy items such as Poitier cotton sheets or a cashmere satin-edge blanket from the chain’s outlet store in Bicester, Oxfordshire, at a discount rate.

She would then falsify a bank statement on her computer showing that the full price for the product had been paid and return it to another branch of the store and fraudulently reclaim the difference in price.

She would tell shop staff that the items had been bought by 'an extravagant great aunt'.

Mr Tucker continued: 'Mrs Brookes would often be wearing her police ID on a lanyard round her neck - this was irregular, and the prosecution say it was a ploy by Mrs Brookes to capitalise on the trust people tend to place in police officers.'

He also described how she fraudulently gained a £6,000 discount from a luxury holiday for her family by falsely claiming that she was a counter-terrorism officer at Gatwick Airport.

The deceit was in order to claim a discount given to people connected with the travel industry from specialist holiday firm Caribbean Unpackaged for the £10,000 trip to Buccament Bay on St Vincent.

Mr Tucker said that Brookes even sent an email to the company saying they could not pass on her details because her identity was a secret because of the nature of the role.

Mr Tucker added that as she returned from this holiday, Brookes also falsely claimed for a damaged Buggaboo buggy worth £849 and a Maclaren buggy worth £195 from British Airways by providing a forged proof of purchase from John Lewis.

She had made a similar false claim against Monarch airlines for a £491 pushchair she alleged had been damaged on a return flight from Tenerife in May 2009.

In another 'scam' outlined by the prosecution, Brookes offered to organise a stall selling Micro Scooters at her son’s nursery.

Mr Tucker said that despite the fact that the parent-teacher association decided to decline her suggestion, Brookes went ahead anyway and when she received the two promotional scooters offered by the manufacturer, she returned them to the Kingston branch of John Lewis and exchanged them for vouchers and a different Micro Scooter.

Mr Tucker described another fraud which involved Brookes buying products such as Sculptinex facial treatments, Clearblue fertility monitors and Medela breast pumps in bulk and at discount on eBay and returning them to Boots to claim the difference in price.

She also bought forged discount vouchers for products such as Lurpak butter on the internet and used them to buy products at reduced price in stores such as Waitrose, Mr Tucker said.

The court was told that her husband had also lost his job as a superintendent as a result of the case.

Nicholas Yeo, defending, said that Brookes had suffered a brain injury prior to her offending and a psychiatric assessment had suggested this might have affected her behaviour and ability to make appropriate judgments.

He said that the offences had led to both her and her husband losing their careers as well as her probably losing her pension.

He continued: 'She has, in a very real sense, thrown it all away.'

Outlet: Brookes, 46, made trips to Bicester Village, the outlet street in Oxfordshire, to buy cheap items

Mr Yeo added: 'She was so harrowed by the investigation that she has ended up with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.'

In his opening of the case, Mr Tucker said: 'It is our case that despite the healthy salaries which she and her husband enjoyed as senior police officers, Mrs Brookes - for reasons which may remain a mystery - expended an extraordinary amount of effort and her own time devising various scams, principally targeted against high street retailers.

'To compound matters, we say that on occasion she exploited her status as a police officer in order to inspire trust in individuals she meant to deceive.'

Following sentencing, Assistant Chief Constable Gavin Stephens of Surrey Police said: 'The sentence handed to Brookes today not only reflects the severity of the offences she committed but also the fact that she used her position as a police officer when committing a number of these offences.

'In her role as a police officer, she should have known better.

'We expect the highest standards of conduct from all of our employees and this kind of behaviour has no place in Surrey Police.

'The vast majority of our officers and staff who serve the people of this county are professional and hard-working and the public rightly trust them to act with integrity at all times.

'We will not hesitate to thoroughly investigate any evidence of wrongdoing and take swift action if any officer is involved in criminality.'

Original report here




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