A MARKET trader alleged behind a six-figure credit card scam “failed to read the fraudster's handbook”, a court heard.

Stuart Bell's barrister Matthew Harding questioned why the defendant had “set out on a fraud in which detection was almost inevitable”.

He said: “If there was a fraudster's handbook he did not read chapter three about covering his tracks or even the first chapter, planning.”

The 42-year-old of Brudenell Way, Darlington, who ran a mobile phone repair business from the town's covered market, denies 11 counts of fraud by false representation between December 17 2008 and January 31 the following year.

He is accused of 'swiping' credit cards using a machine belonging to the business in order to gain from fraudulent refunds totalling £133,765.

During the same period more than £37,000 was withdrawn from various bank accounts he had control of and spent on items such as house renovations, an expensive watch and ferry tickets.

Mr Harding said Mr Bell had engaged with the supplier of the credit card machine, Elavon Merchant Services, and also asked the company to involve the police.

Prosecutor David Crook said Mr Bell's explanation that another man he named as 'Raj Singh' who took over the mobile phone accessory business was responsible for the fraudulent transactions was false and “nonsense”.

Mr Crook, who described how the defendant had also transferred to his sister's account before withdrawing the funds, said: “He knew what was going on with those accounts, he had possession of those accounts. He was the only person benefiting, spending and transferring cash.”

The jury at Teesside Crown Court are expected to retire on Monday to consider their verdicts.