A woman made half a million pounds by shoplifting and tricking the stores into giving her refunds for the stolen goods.
Narinder Kaur, 53, was found guilty at Gloucester Crown Court of 26 separate offences on 10 March after four-month trial.
It is believed that Kaur stole from more than 1,000 shops across the country during her four-year plot, shoplifting “on an industrial scale.”
The jury, praised by the judge after what is believed to have been the longest-ever trial at the court, found Kaur guilty of 14 offences of fraud, two of money laundering, four of possessing the proceeds of crime, one of conspiracy to defraud, and four of perverting the course of justice.
The court was told Kaur, originally from Worcester, had legally changed her name from Nina Tiara.
At the start of the trial on 8 November, prosecutor Gareth Weetman said she was “an intelligent but also a highly dishonest and manipulative individual” who had deceived shops, banks, solicitors and even the courts.
Mr Weetman said Kaur had discovered a way of “beating the system” by getting retailers to pay her the full value of things she had stolen.
“The defendant discovered that with many large retailers, if you take an item that they sell into a store, claim you’ve bought it but don’t have the receipt, but say that you just want to exchange it, you’re much more likely to succeed,” he said.
The jury was told Kaur targeted branches of Boots, Debenhams, Homebase, John Lewis, House of Fraser, Monsoon, M&S and TK Maxx.
The prosecutor detailed how she spent £5,000 at Boots stores including in Cheltenham, Malvern, Solihull, Kidderminster, and Dudley – but obtained refunds she was not entitled to totalling £60,000.
At Debenhams stores, she got refunds of £42,800 but spent only £3,600. She defrauded John Lewis stores in Watford, Chester, Milton Keynes and Cardiff out of £33,000 after spending only £5,200.
For a £1,181 spend in Homebase and TX Maxx stores in 15 different towns and cities she tricked the retailers into handing over £19,540 in refunds.
At House of Fraser stores in Bristol, Cardiff, Cwmbran and Exeter she spent £2,850 and claimed refunds of £23,000.
Her crime spree came to an end when police took an in-depth look at her bank and credit cards and discovered “an extraordinary history of refund payments”, Mr Weetman said.
Kaur also defrauded eight firms of solicitors, instructing them to sue her brother for money, and using male accomplices to pay the compensation using stolen credit cards. The firms then forwarded the money to her before the frauds were uncovered.
The prosecutor said Kaur “failed to be deterred” after being caught and charged, lying to the court to get changes in her bail conditions for medical appointments so she could steal again.
But she raised suspicions at Dunelm in Swindon while trying to get a refund and was arrested. Police searched her house and found 49 shopping bags full of goods and £108,000 in cash.
Her home was searched again after she tried the trick at an Asda, and police found £4,000 cash in a carrier bag, among a total of £38,000 around her house.
Giovanni D’Alessandro of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “Narinder Kaur undertook fraud on a long standing and wide-ranging manner.
“It was a very lucrative full-time job which demonstrably made her over half a million pounds over this period of offending.
“She went to extraordinary lengths to carry out her deceptions, seeking to find a way of defrauding a retailer and then travelling all over the country to replicate the fraud.
“She also changed her name legally and opened new bank accounts and credit cards in a second identity to avoid detection.
“She now righty faces a significant sentence for her crimes and the prosecution will look to recoup as many of her ill-gotten gains as the law allows.”
Narinder Kaur will be sentenced at a later date.