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23 September 2013, 13:21
A Redcar and Cleveland Council IT boss who defrauded Vodafone out of £724,000 has been jailed for three years.
36 year old Steven Topham manipulated the mobile phone giant's credit system to order more than 1,700 high-value handsets, most of which were sold on by an associate.
When police arrested him last year, they found £15,500 in cash in the boot of the council employee's car.
Vodafone offers customers credit for making purchases and Topham realised if he made orders for the council but quickly cancelled them, the credits were not immediately recovered.
He used the built-up credit to buy iPhones, Samsung Galaxies and BlackBerries, most of which were delivered to a trader's address in Oldham.
Topham had made contact with the seller via eBay.
His buyer would drive up to a Teesside lay-by to exchange cash.
The fraud was exposed when Vodafone's courier company grew suspicious about making a delivery of 32 Samsung Galaxies and an internal inquiry was launched.
Topham, from Coronation Green, Park End, Middlesbrough, could not tell police how many phones he had sold or how much he had made.
He told police he had bought a hot tub, sauna, holiday caravan, electrical goods and paid off his substantial debts.
Topham pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and converting criminal property at an earlier hearing.