A HIGH-FLYING air hostess from Cradley Heath has been convicted of fraud after persistently scamming passengers buying duty free goods.

Claire Harrold, 27, of Norwood Avenue, was employed as cabin crew on board flights in and out of Heathrow for British Airways when she started creating ghost credit cards.

Part of her job was to sell duty free goods including make-up and perfume to passengers, Isleworth Crown Court was told.

But British Airways noted unusually heavy cash losses on flights where she was working and began an investigation.

In March last year, she was stopped as she returned from Shanghai and found to be in possession of a £62 sale for Bobbi Brown make-up and the matching purchase.

Prosecutor Gavin Kirkpatrick said: “Ms Harrold worked as cabin crew for British Airways and part of her duties were the sale of a variety of items, using credit card transactions.”

“It was noted over an extended period, Ms Harrold was using credit card transactions, not using the card, but using a hand completed process where there were a number of those transactions.”

Suspicious BA investigators discovered 14 frauds committed between January and March last year with a total loss to the firm of £864.

On one occasion it was found a child occupied the seat where a purchase was said to have occured and the parent said they had bought nothing.

Judge Sam Katkhuda said: “The court takes a serious view of people who steal from their employers, when they are in a position of trust. This was not an isolated incident but a course of consuct carried on by you over a period of three months.”

He warned: “In my mind the proper sentence is a long sentence of imprisonment.”

But he said, taking into account the early plea of guilty and her previous good character, he would not send her to prison.

Harrold, who wept in the dock, admitted 14 counts of fraud and was ordered to complete a two year community order and 200 hours community service. She must also repay £864 to BA and £200 costs.