07:56
12 Dec

Four men who used an old scammer’s trick to defraud bookmakers across England out of more than £600,000 have been handed jail sentences totalling 8 years

The main ringleaders of the scam, Thomas Wheatcroft, 40 , and Charlie Shaw, 33, along with Michael Sadgove-Tarrant, 37, and Paul Hubbold, 59, committed a total of 168 frauds earlier this year against Ladbrokes and Coral betting stores, the total amount coming to £663,556.

The quartet used laminated £20 and £50 banknotes connected to plastic leads to carry out their scam, inserting the plastic-coated notes into betting terminal slots and then retrieving them using the leads after the machine had registered the payment.

This very simple version of an age-old technique seen in casino slots – and even phone boxes in the good old days! – was carried out across the UK.

Betting shops were targeted in London, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Surrey, and as far afield as Yorkshire, Merseyside, and the West Midlands.

The two-month scamming spree carried out this June and July was highly lucrative, the men cashing out real money for their fake stake, but they left a crucial trail of evidence that eventually led to their downfall.

When staff noticed that their final day cash tallies did not match up with the machine’s numbers, police were called in and soon discovered that the men wore the same clothing at each target shop.

That backfired when police arrested the men and discovered bags of clothing that matched that seen on CCTV, including 20 baseball caps worn by the suspects.


As reported by the Liverpool Echo, all four defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud last month at Kingston Crown Court and received lifetime bans from UK bookmakers along with varying jail terms.

Wheatcroft was sentenced to four years and three months‘ while Shaw received two years, Detective Constable Kevin Parley of the Met Police stating:

“I am pleased that Wheatcroft and Shaw, who were the main offenders, received custodial sentences, and I hope this provides some relief for the companies who have been affected by their actions.”

Sadgove-Tarrant was sentenced to a one-year prison term, suspended for two years, while Hubbold got nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.

DC Parley told the press:

“The substantial sums of money stolen by the group is a significant loss to the businesses these men had targeted. We worked closely with security officials from both firms to carry out a joint investigation, which included gathering evidence to bring forward a robust case against the four men.”

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