THE fourth and final member of a scamming gang which targeted businesses across Cumbria has admitted his criminal conduct - and been warned he could receive a prison sentence.

Reece McDonagh, 32, had previously denied involvement in a fraud which ran over the course of several days in late January 2020.

Ringleader Sonia Malhi, her daughter, Tia, and another accomplice, Remi Jarratt, had previously admitted their roles and been sentenced for seeking to dupe staff at hotels and business in and around Keswick, and other traders in West Cumbria and Kendal.

Malhi directed other gang members as card transaction receipts were snatched from Lakes craft shops and art galleries.

Card numbers from these stolen slips of paper were then entered on to payment card machines as unassuming employees were distracted.

The audacious fraud was valued at around £13,700 with the crooks splashing out on luxury hotel rooms and expensive bottles of champagne, while unwarranted sizeable refunds were also requested.

McDonagh appeared at Carlisle Crown Court on Thursday and admitted a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud between January 22 and 27, 2020.

Prosecutor Rob Wyn Jones said of the part McDonagh played: “He was one of the defendants who was a distraction while principally the female defendants were carrying out the fraud.”

Recorder Anna Vigars QC adjourned the case and asked for the preparation of a probation service pre-sentence report.

McDonagh, of Stretford Road, Trafford, Manchester, was granted unconditional bail and is due to be sentenced at the crown court on February 10.

But Recorder Vigars told him: “I’m not promising you one way or the other what sentence the judge who sentences you is going to pass. It may be a prison sentence. It may not be.”