Gambler Sentenced to Ten Months in Jail for Business Receipt Scam

  • Old receipts were used to obtain refunds totaling more than AU$11,000 (US$7,400) 
  • Bunnings, Kmart, and Aldi stores were targeted in the scam
  • The 56-year-old problem gambler must attend offender behavior programs
male seller providing a client with bright shopping packages and a receipt
Craig Pyke, a 56-year-old compulsive gambler, has been jailed for ten months after pleading guilty to stealing from stores through a receipt scam. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Locked up

A compulsive gambler who stole more than AU$11,000 (US$7,400) from businesses has been sentenced to ten months in jail after appearing at the Ballarat Magistrates Court of Australia.

eighth time Pyke has been sentenced for similar conduct

Craig Pyke pleaded guilty to stealing from Bunnings, Kmart, and Aldi stores through a receipt scam. This is the eighth time Pyke has been sentenced for similar conduct, with the court hearing that a long-lasting gambling addiction is the reason behind his crimes.

Details of the scam

Pyke pled guilty to 91 charges of obtaining property by deception. Between December 2017 and April 2019, Pyke used discarded receipts to ask for refunds at specific retailers. The gambler selected items to match the receipts in the stores and then requested refunds.

Bunnings stores located in Melton, Ballarat, and Sunshine were targeted in the scam. Pyke managed to receive 56 refunds from the Bunnings locations, with the amount totaling over AU$9,600 (US$6,000). Pyke also targeted Kmart in his receipt scam, completing 29 refunds for AU$1,750 (US$1,180). Aldi also provided refunds on 10 different occasions for AU$534 (US$360).

Caught in the act

Suspicion about the receipt scam began in September 2018 when Geelong Bank discovered transactions made via Pyke’s account. No expense matched the refunds received. Police were alerted by the bank and an investigation began, which led to charges being filed against Pyke.

Magistrate Ron Saines said the driving factor behind Pyke’s scam was a serious gambling addiction. The sentencing this past week for the scheme marked the eighth time that Pyke has been sentenced for similar conduct. He served a prison term back in 2016 for 180 charges after obtaining property by deception.

Mr. Saines stated that Pyke had not taken steps in the past to improve his situation and said in court that the gambler was responsible for his gambling choices. Saines said:

This was a scheme of dishonesty which you applied in a premediated and planned manner. You planned it and executed it successfully on 91 occasions.”

Speaking in court, Pyke said that he plans to reform and will hopefully be able to put his mind to the task and achieve his goals.

Sentencing and reform

Because Pyke pled guilty early on, the judge choose to be lenient with a sentence of 10 months instead of 18 with a non-parole period.

Once he is released in September, Pyke will have a community correction order in place for two years, which will be monitored by the courts. He must also participate in offender behavior programs and undergo an addiction reassessment.

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