Harrods fraudster set for jail term

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A former manageress at the Knightsbridge store Harrods was behind bars yesterday after being found guilty of helping to plunder more than pounds 200,000 from the credit-card accounts of wealthy customers.

The fraud, carried out in part by Elizabeth John, 31, prompted an in-depth security review at the London store, and left one shopper with a pounds 120,000 bill after just three months. But Al Sharif Al Hussein was so rich he did not notice the extra items on his Gold Mastercard statement.

John, a biochemistry graduate once regarded as "promising " by Harrods and later dismissed for gross misconduct, looked stunned as the jury at Harrow Crown Court unanimously convicted her of conspiracy to defraud between February 1993 and May 1995. She was remanded in custody for sentencing on 7 February. Her brother, Koshy, 29, who admitted the charge, will be sentenced with her for the credit-card fraud and also for a counterfeit-dollars swindle of which he was convicted last year.

John claimed that the 13,000 receipts found at her home had become mixed up with other papers, were taken out of the store "quite innocently", and that her brother had examined them without her knowledge.

The details of card accounts on the receipts were encoded on bogus cards, which were then used in shopping expeditionsacross the country.

A spokesman for Harrods said that the store would be contacting all customers who may have been victims of the fraud.