A Brixton newsagent who stole thousands of pounds from his customers as they topped up their Oyster cards has been ordered to repay £24,000 to Transport for London (TfL).
Girish Patel, 63, from Krishen News, New Park Road, Brixton, carried out the scam over two years by voiding top-ups put onto the cards for customers and keeping the cash for himself.
Patel also charged customers more than he credited their card, pocketing the difference himself.
One victim of the scam said she once asked Patel’s wife, who works in the shop, to put £10 on her Oyster “but when I got to Streatham Hill train station I was told there was nothing on it. I went back and told her later that day, but she said ‘nothing to do with me. Contact TfL. Get out of my shop.” She said that the pair were extremely rude to their customers.
Another regular user of the shop said they believed they had been a victim of the scam, and added that Girish and his wife had “a bad form of customer service.”
When asked by Brixton Bugle if he would like to apologise to his customers he said he “didn’t need to” as they “knew him” and declined to comment any further. His wife told us that they were “taking out a loan to pay the money back.”
Appearing at Central Criminal Court on January 16, he was ordered to pay TfL £23,978 by July 17 or face more time in prison. He was previously jailed for 14 months for fraud in November 2013.
Acting Detective Superintendent John Oldham said: “This was a despicable and contemptuous crime in which Patel defrauded his customers for over two years, stealing their money by topping-up their Oyster cards with less than what they had paid for them.
“As a result of his crime he has not only served a lengthy prison sentence, but is also being made to pay back the money he stole.”
Only one victim could be traced by police, because most of the cards scammed belong to unregistered Oysters.
Patel denied owning any assets in the UK or abroad but a police investigation found that he owned a freehold property and had thousands of pounds in different bank accounts.
Steve Burton from TfL said that Girish Patel “abused the trust of his customers”, adding that he will never have his contract to sell Oyster credit reinstated by TfL.
Could you have been a victim of Girish Patel’s scam? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org