Conman tricks Ladbrokes branches out of £10,000 in distraction scam

John O'Connor caught on CCTV at a Ladbrokes branch in Woodford

John O'Connor caught on CCTV at a Ladbrokes branch in Woodford - Credit: Archant

A quick-talking conman used distraction tactics to trick betting shop cashiers out of £10,000.

John O’Connor, 33, conned staff at 14 branches of Ladbrokes across London – including shops in Redbridge – over around 18 months by using what the industry calls “slow count fraud” tactics to fool them into believing he had won bets when he had not even paid his stake.

The fraudster’s tactics included placing a bet but then distracting the cashier – sometimes with the help of friends – by asking questions, becoming rowdy or placing a series of small, obscure bets at the same time.

This would allow him time to see if his runner was likely to win.

If it won, he would hand over his stake and claim the profit, or pretend he had already paid and ask only for his winnings. He would then place the non-existent stake on another bet.

If he lost, he would leave without paying the stake.

O’Connor carried out scams at branches in boroughs including Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth and Westminster, as well as Clevedon in Somerset, Sutton-in-Ashfield in Nottingham, Chester in Cheshire, Standish in Greater Manchester, Sandy in Bedfordshire, Chelmsford in Essex and Weston-super-Mare in Somerset.

Most Read

Ladbrokes reported the offences to the Met in April 2013 after he carried out the con at a branch in Oxford Street.

Detectives circulated CCTV images of him to police services around the country, and Hertfordshire police officers arrested him in July 2014.

O’Connor was charged with 15 counts of a fraud by misrepresentation, to which he pleaded guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court on November 24.

But while on bail awaiting sentence, he carried out the same offence at William Hill on Tyburn Road, Erdington, Birmingham on December 28.

It is believed that he may have carried out the scam on many more occasions.

Appearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court for sentencing today, O’Connor, of St Mary’s Road, Ealing, was handed an 18 month sentence, suspended for two years, for 16 counts of fraud by misrepresentations.

He was also given a 12-month supervision order and four-month alcohol treatment order.