Loose onion scam man

1 October 2013

It’s hard to imagine it’s possible to scam a supermarket self service machine without something going embarrassingly wrong. Most people can barely manage to scan a tin of beans before the red light goes on and a grumpy supervisor starts fiddling about and cursing the very ground you walk on.


But Nicholas Long, a 25 year old hockey player with debts up to his eyeballs, managed to trick a Sainsbury’s self service machine to read all his shopping as ‘Loose Onions’ and conned the supermarket out of £450. He used the scam 20 times in 3 months at the same branch of Sainsbury’s in central London.

‘It is a straight forward allegation that he went to Sainsbury’s and was seen scanning various items in at the self-service checkout.’ Said Prosecutor Denise Murrin. ‘All items were being scanned as loose onions, but the store does not sell loose onions. It was an inexpensive way of doing his shopping.’

Angus Mathieson, who was defending Long, said he was in debt after his father’s building firm collapsed, and explained: ‘It was a stupid thing he has done. He was not getting a stupid amount, not substituting champagne or anything like that, but just getting an avocado and claiming it was an onion.’

I can’t help feeling a begrudging admiration for him. He’s beaten the system and turned avocados into onions! He's like JESUS. However, Long won't be able to show us how to do his underhand scam- he'll be doing 180 hours community service instead.

TOPICS:   Consumer Advice   Supermarket   Scams


  • klingelton
    silly man. everyone knows that potatoes make your shopping cheaper ;)
  • Do m.
    It's enough to bring you to tears
  • Loose O.
    Actually the guy shouldn't have been convicted, since the supermarket decided to use a machine as it's sales representative. Once the machine agree's to sell the bag of items at an agree'd price and accepts payment the deal is sealed. Perhaps the supermarkets should start employing human beings who'd know the difference between a potato and a pork chop. Seems self service=help yourself :)
  • Kevin
    It's a rather stupid thing to do considering the fact that you will certainly be filmed doing it, anything you do that is not scanning each item's barcode correctly (so seperate barcode, same item through several times etc) is automatically a sign of your attempt at dishonesty and will help convict you. And don't use your Nectar or debit card of course. And if you get convicted you will probably get banned from all of their stores, which would be very annoying. I find it amazing that he did it so many times at the same place though. You'd think they'd notice sales of things they don't sell.
  • Han S.
    @Loose onion - You seem to be overlooking the fact that what the machine had 'agreed' to sell him wasn't actually what he had
  • Tweedskin
    We used to do this all the time except we put everything through as Banana's. We called it the Banana Button.
  • Obi K.
    You mean bananas, you banana
  • Big M.
    'Unexpected item in bagging area' Think he's was looking at prison.
  • Big M.
    ^ either, 'he's looking at prison' or, 'he was looking at prison'. That's what it said on the proper internet.
  • Shiftyniftysshadow
    Fair play to him...it seemed he knew his onions
  • Jockster
    Having a criminal record for dishonesty will cost him more in lost employment opportunities in the future than he can possibly have saved before getting caught. In this case, having stronger morals would've paid off handsomely.
  • fibbingarchie
    What a bell-end, I hate theiving bastards.
  • Big M.
    ^ He had a criminal record for thieving already.
  • bittertraveller
    ^So he's set to work in the banking industry.
  • patrick q.
    wonder how many onions the judge find him

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