Fraudster jailed over fake card shopping spree

Iosif Szalacsi was jailed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: Greg Macvean
Iosif Szalacsi was jailed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A FRAUDSTER has been jailed after going on a shopping spree around Edinburgh with fake credit cards, spending £2263 on clothes, whisky and mobile phones.

Iosif Szalacsi, 24, pleaded guilty to five charges of fraud, one of attempted fraud and one of being in possession of falsified credit cards.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how he used cloned American Express cards to fund his shopping trip on May 6.

Szalacsi’s day began at The Whisky Shop in Princes Mall where he got two bottles of whisky valued at £275.

He moved on to John Lewis in the St James Centre, where he collected several items of electrical goods worth £978.

Then he hit Jenners in Princes Street for £140 worth of clothing, before adding two phones valued at £870 from CEX in Rose Street. They were later recovered.

The court heard his fraudulent activities came to an end when he attempted to purchase two pairs of shoes at Cruise in George Street and the transaction was not successful.

Fiscal depute Lewis Crosbie told Sheriff Alistair Noble that the accused’s visits to the various shops had been recorded on CCTV and he was found to be in possession of several cloned American Express cards.

Defence solicitor Eddie Wilson told Sheriff Noble his client, who is from Romania, had expressed the wish to plead guilty at the earliest opportunity.

“He has never previously seen the inside of a police station and that includes 
growing up in Romania,” said the lawyer.

“He has been in this country for four or five years. He was residing in Sheffield and for some time in London and it is his intention to go back to London where he has two cousins.”

Mr Wilson added: “He was completely misguided. There were difficulties for his family back in Romania and individuals he encountered took advantage of his naivety. He has been stupid, but he does not blame anyone else.”

Sentencing Szalacsi, Sheriff Noble told him he had pleaded guilty to a number of serious charges.

He said: “You came to Edinburgh and in one day you went to a number of shops and obtained a number of items by fraud and on one occasion an attempted fraud was unsuccessful, and all this was by cloned credit cards.”

The sheriff told Szalacsi that if it wasn’t for his early guilty plea he would have sentenced him to 30 months, but he would reduce that to 22 months, backdated to May 8.