Two bungling fraudsters were caught trying to pass off ice cubes as iPads in an elaborate insurance scam – when they MELTED, a court has heard.
Nathan Meunch, 29, and Nigel Bennett, 39, crammed ice cubes into a cardboard box and told Royal Mail the parcel contained £2,500-worth of iPads.
They had the parcel weighed and marked as iPads before sending it via Special Delivery to a friend’s house.
They then lodged an insurance claim with Royal Mail saying the iPads had been mislaid.
But the scam was exposed when the soggy parcel burst at the post office in Whitchurch, Shrops., on March 14 last year.
The court heard staff became suspicious when they noticed wet patches on Meunch’s jacket when he got the parcel weighed and when it melted they alerted Royal Mail investigators.
Meunch, of Leegomery, Telford, was found guilty of fraud following a trial at Shrewsbury Crown Court.
Bizarrely, he turned up at court last Friday wearing a bizarre paper bag disguise – just weeks after posing for pictures at the start of his trial.
Meanwhile Bennett, of Stirchley, West Mids., pleaded guilty to the same charge.
Both men received a 12-month community order and 150 hours of unpaid work.
They were also ordered to pay £500 towards prosecution costs within six months.
Recorder Mr Christopher Hotten QC told them: “You, Mr Bennett, accept responsibility for the idea of this offence.
“You were short of money and you wanted to make some money.
“You prepared a package containing ice cubes which was represented to contain iPad screens.
“You, Mr Meunch, took it to the post office and dispatched it and it was you who submitted a compensation claim.
“The plan was unsuccessful. The ice melted and the post office were quite well aware within an hour that this was a scam.”
During the trial the court heard the parcel had ‘disintegrated’ in front of shocked postal workers.
Counter clerk Elaine Sloane, told the court how she served Meunch and noticed damp spots on his jacket.
She said: “I just happened to say to the gentleman is it raining outside and he said yes but it seemed strange to me because I could see from where I was sitting it didn’t look like it was raining.”
“I asked him what was inside and he said iPads.
“About an hour later, a colleague noticed a puddle of water beneath the Special Delivery pile.
“We had a little look and you could see all ice in there.
“He had sent it as iPads and I couldn’t believe it was all this water and the box was disintegrating.”
Denis Desmond, defending Bennett, said: “The reason he did this was he was running a music hall and could not raise the money to rent the venue.
“He hatched this not just unsuccessful but rather pathetic plan.”
The court heard in 2008 Bennett, an engineer, was jailed for three years for possession with intent to supply ecstasy.
They refused to comment outside court.