Call it fake news – or perhaps, fake brews – but we assure you it’s not: This week, a motorist in the UK was arrested after police discovered hundreds of fake McDonald’s stickers to trade for free coffees hoarded in his vehicle.
Now, you’re probably wondering, just as we are – if you’re struggling to pay for a coffee from McDonald’s, then clearly there are more pressing life matters to be worrying about than, well, a cup of coffee from Maccas.
Nevertheless, on 8 December 2019, the man, who was driving in Bradford in West Yorkshire, was arrested with his stash of counterfeit stickers trying to outsmart the loyalty scheme that allows you to trade a specific number of stickers for a free drink.
How the Sticker Hoarder was Discovered by Police
Making the incident even more tragic, it turns out the man was actually pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs.
The Steerside Enforcement Team, which deals with anti-social and criminal use of the roads in Bradford, stopped the man on Westgate Hill Street believing he was drug driving, which then led to the detection of the multiple sheets of coffee stickers in his car.
West Yorkshire Police then arrested the man on suspicion of fraud, along with the initial suspicion of drug driving.
They said he was attempting to defraud the McDonald’s hot drink loyalty system, in which stickers are given away free when you purchase a coffee or drink, and when you collect six, can be exchanged for a free coffee.
West Yorkshire Police confirmed the driver was given a “community resolution” for fraud in relation to the counterfeit stickers.
“Just Pay for Your Coffee!” – Steerside Enforcement Team take to Twitter to Express Frustration
Turning to Twitter to inform of the incident, the Steerside Enforcement were quick to express their frustration over the incident.
“Male arrested for drug driving in @WYP_BradfordS also dealt with for a fraud offence when multiple sheets of fake @McDonaldsUK coffee stickers were found in his vehicle,” the tweet read.
“It may seem inconsequential, but it is illegal to cheat a company like this.
“Just pay for your coffee!”
Unfortunately, there are no specifics on how exactly the man came to own the bogus coffee sticker sheets – and perhaps more importantly, why?
Nevertheless, speaking of the situation, a spokesman for McDonald’s said, “Anyone attempting to use what our restaurant teams believe to be counterfeit stickers will be declined their free coffee.”
Indeed, it seems people everywhere will do all kinds of whacky things to get hold of a freebie.
Understanding Fraud and Obtaining Benefit by Deception
As the Australian Institute of Criminology advises, fraud refers to a category of conduct that involves the use of dishonesty & deceit to obtain some unjust advantage.
It can cover a range of different situations and activities, including money and property, where a financial advantage is gained or a financial advantage is caused to another party through deception & dishonesty.
In NSW, fraud is commonly understood as the offence of obtaining benefit by deception. It was created for cases where the accused dishonestly, with deception obtained property or any financial advantage, which is covered in section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
The impact of being charged with fraud can be devastating on your life. It can affect your ability to work and obtain financial assistance in the future.
It’s a crime to deceptively and dishonestly obtain a financial advantage, cause a financial disadvantage or obtain property belonging to another.
Section 192E(1) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) prescribes a maximum 10-years imprisonment penalty for this crime in NSW. This applies if the case is dealt with in the District Court of NSW.
Here, a person obtaining a property belonging to another may be dishonest even if he/she is willing to pay for it.
If the charge is being heard and dealt with in the Local Court of NSW, the maximum penalty that the court can impose is 2-years imprisonment.
Section 192B Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) outlines the meaning of ‘deception’ under the law here. ‘Deception’ is deception by words or conduct as to law or fact, and includes deception as to an intention of a person using the deception. It includes a situation where you cause a computer, machine or other electronic device to make a response that it otherwise not authorised.
In this above case, deception is the fake McDonald’s stickers used to outsmart the loyalty scheme.
‘Dishonesty’ under the law here means dishonest according to the ordinary standards of people, and known by you to be dishonest in accordance with those standards (section 4B Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)).
You will be ‘guilty’ of the charge of obtaining benefit by deception in NSW if:
- You received a financial benefit, caused a financial disadvantage or obtained property; and
- Your deception caused this; and
- You were dishonest.
Some of the defences to this charge include, an honest claim that you are legally entitled to the benefit/advantage or property; necessity or duress; the benefit received or property received was not caused by your conduct.
If you have a question about the law on fraud, call our team today.
Our hotline is available 24/7 to arrange a free consult with a criminal lawyer based in our Sydney office. We also have multiple offices across NSW and appear across all courts.