A FORD Transit van was especially adapted to be used in a fuel scam.
It appeared that the vehicle was being filled with diesel in the normal way when it stopped at garage forecourts.
But two hidden 1,000 litre tanks had been put inside the back to take the fuel – and to make matters worse it was being paid for by bogus fuel cards.
Mold Crown Court heard how one business, the Esso Services on the A55 at Bodelwyddan, had been targeted and lost more than £25,000 worth of fuel in just over a week.
Defendant Haroon Rashid (31) of Abbey Hills Road, Glodwich, Oldam, admitted four frauds and two charges of possessing bogus fuel cards and the adapted van for fraudulent purposes over two days in May, 2012.
He received a nine month prison sentence suspended for 12 months with 300 hours unpaid work and compensation of £900.
Co-defendant Mohammed Hussain (34) of Wellington Road, Crumpsall in Manchester, was jailed for 12 months for his involvement in three offences of fraud on one day only.
The court heard that there was an on-going police investigation into the owner of the vehicle who was alleged to have adapted the vehicle and obtained fuel cards in the name of fictitious people.
Judge Niclas Parry said both defendants had taken part in a larger, sophisticated fuel scam which involved numerous transactions.
“So that the public are aware, one business lost in excess of £21,500 in a matter of seven or eight days,” he said.
It was fraudulent from the outset, false applications had been made for fuel cards, and they were used to obtain tens of thousands of pounds worth of fuel throughout the North West and North Wales.
The chain of responsibility no doubt went far higher than the two defendants before him, Judge Parry said.
They were not involved in the planning and the organisation of the scam or the adapting of the vehicle but they knew full well what they were doing, he said.
“This fraud would not have been possible without people like you playing the roles that you did,” he said.
They used the fictitious fuel cards and a van adapted to receive 2,000 litres of fuel during one journey.
Rashid admitted visiting the Esso Services three times in two days and Hussain once, but he had been convicted after trial.
Hussain had previous convictions for fraud and at the time would have been on licence after being released from a prison sentence for robbery.
Sion ap Mihangel, prosecuting, said staff at the garage in Bodelwyddan became suspicious at the number and frequency of transactions and when they saw the Transit approach again, the pumps were shut off after Rashid had only obtained £10 worth.
The vehicle containing the two men drove off but was stopped by police, who seized the cards and the adapted van.
“There is an on-going investigation in to the individual behind all of this,” the prosecutor said.
Patrick Williamson, for Hussain, said that it was his case that he had simply been called in to do a day’s work and had been asked to travel to North Wales to pick up some fuel.
Debra White, for Rashid, said that her client stupidly became involved but had nothing to do with the obtaining of the cards or the adapting of the van.
He had a gambling addiction at the time of the offences, which took place two years ago.
Rashid had stayed out of trouble, had a job, was married and his wife was expecting their first baby, and he was responsible for the mortgage for his family and that of his parents.
If he was jailed then they would not have a roof over their heads, she explained.
His life had moved on since the offences were committed, she said