A ‘CALCULATING and audacious fraudster’ used counterfeit credit cards to try to buy a bracelet and a necklace worth almost £8,000 from the Harrods store in London.
And after a judge refused to be taken in by her claim to have no other convictions, it was discovered that Chengjing Jiang had committed similar offences in Denmark and Austria.
Jiang – who is also known as Sunyang Wells, and has given two dates of birth, making her 52 or 66 – had pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud and four of having articles for use in fraud.
The fraudster, of Hermitage Road, Solihull, who had also admitted failing to surrender to custody after being granted bail, was jailed for 16 months when she appeared at Warwick Crown Court.
Prosecutor Rachel Pennington said that on January 2 2016 Jiang went to the Cartier counter at Harrods in Knightsbridge and expressed an interest in a bracelet costing £4,950.
She tried to pay with a Diner’s Club card, but that was declined, so she snatched it back from the sales assistant and offered a Gold Standard Visa card instead.
That was also declined, and the assistant suspected it was counterfeit because the card reader had given an option to pay in Bahrainian dinars.
Jiang, who claimed she had a business in Bahrain, said she had decided not to buy the bracelet, but the assistant alerted her manager and kept Jiang there by showing her a necklace.
Continuing her deception, Jiang suggested the bracelet would have taken her over her credit limit – and blatantly tried to buy the £2,810 necklace instead.
Again the transaction was declined, and when Jiang was arrested the two cards and an American Express card – one of which was in the name Sunyang Wells, in which name she was charged – and a young person’s rail card were all seized.
She admitted she had bought the cards for £100 each on the internet, and was granted bail – but failed to turn up at Knightsbridge magistrates’ court the following months.
A warrant was issued for her arrest, but was not finally executed until last month – because although she had been living at her address in Solihull throughout that time, she had denied any knowledge of Sunyang Wells when contacted there by the police.
When she first appeared at the crown court Jiang insisted she had no other convictions, but sceptical Judge Barry Berlin did not believe her and adjourned for further enquiries to be made.
And at the resumed hearing Miss Pennington revealed that later in 2016 Jiang had been jailed for three months for a similar fraud in Denmark, and the following year she was given a suspended 18-month sentence in Austria for further frauds.
Derek Johashen, defending, said: “There appears to be one account in interview about how this offence came to be committed and what would appear to be an inconsistent account given to the probation service. The correct version is somewhere between the two.
“She purchased four cards on the internet. She knew they were fraudulent, and had second thoughts by the time she received them.
“But she appears to have been befriended by the man who had sent them to her, and she foolishly went along with a plan to go to the shop and attempt to use those cards.”
But Judge Berlin responded: “I heard a similar submission last time. I was not impressed then, and time has not improved the impression. The man, if he existed, and I doubt he did, makes no difference to the issue of her dishonesty.”
And jailing Jiang, the judge told her: “You are not a stupid woman, you have a master’s degree in business management. You are not the poor victim of a ruthless lover.
“In my opinion you are a calculating and audacious fraudster who, out of greed, looked for expensive items to swindle from a retailer.
“There is no doubt there was planning because you bought the cards with the deliberate intention of using them for fraud. This was premeditated.”
And of her repeated claims to have no other convictions, he added: “I am not dealing with you for attempting to pervert the course of justice. It does not, however, assist your mitigation to make false submissions to this court.”