Barcode cheat now behind bars

Barcode cheat now behind bars
Zhang Bobo was sentenced to six months' jail after admitting to four charges of cheating involving $2,354.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

A tin of milk powder can, depending on the brand, cost almost $150, but he paid only $1.25 for each tin.

And the items were not on sale.

Zhang Bobo, 27, a provision shop owner, had created fake barcode stickers that he scanned at the supermarket's self-checkout counters.

He was eventually caught red-handed and was jailed for six months yesterday after pleading guilty to four cheating charges.

Facing financial problems, Zhang planned to get milk powder at reduced prices to sell online.

He used his label printer to produce tags for Marigold evaporated milk priced at $1.25 each.

He then stuck them onto various products such as milk powder tins, dresses, toys, chocolates and even a paper shredder inside a Giant supermarket at Tampines North Drive 2.


He then paid for them at the self-checkout counters.

That branch suffered a loss of $3,524.72 between September and November last year due to this.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sanjiv Vaswani said Zhang had observed self-checkout counters at supermarkets before striking the Tampines Giant in September last year.

He bought three 1,600g tins of Pediasure milk powder worth $246.60 for $138.90.

The amount got bigger by Nov 1 that year when he stuck his $1.25 tags onto items including two 1,600g tins of S26 Pro 2S milk powder worth $292.80.

That day, the value of the items was $629.70, but he paid only $10.

Zhang continued committing the offence from Nov 2 to Nov 6, causing the supermarket to suffer an additional $2,366.52 in losses.

On Nov 6, he tried to cheat the supermarket again, but he was caught when a supermarket worker identified him at a checkout counter.

Zhang's lawyer, Mr Michael Han, pleaded for compassion and mercy, saying his client was very remorseful.

He told District Judge Low Wee Ping that his client's provision shop was financed by his father, who was pressuring him to settle a debt.

Mr Han asked the court if his client could defer his sentence by three months, as he was selling his shop.

Judge Low allowed him to defer sentence to April 27.

Seven other counts of cheating and two counts of attempted cheating were taken into consideration during sentencing. For each count of cheating, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

This article was first published on March 31, 2016.
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