Three men acted as a team to distract the cashier at a Leamington bowling alley, enabling one of them to snatch his supervisor card and use it to put through a £3,000 refund.
They were also able to put through another transaction before the employee realised what they were up to and challenged them, at which point they fled.
But Mubarak Mubarak, Abdulrahim Said and Omar Said, went on to commit further offences in Worcester and Bristol before finally being trapped at Corley Services on the M6.
And at Warwick Crown Court, after initially denying the charge, all three eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.
Mubarak (24) from Harlesden, North London, the first of the three to plead guilty, was jailed for 18 months consecutive to six months of a suspended sentence he was subject to at the time.
Omar Said (24) from Park Royal, North London, who was on bail at the time for a similar offence for which he was later ordered to do unpaid work, was jailed for 21 months.
But Abdulrahim Said (22) from Park Royal, North London, had his 21-month sentence suspended for two years, and was ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work.
Prosecutor Daniel Oscroft had told the court: “These three conspired in April 2016 to commit a number of frauds in a number of ways, including cloned or stolen credit cards.”
On May 16 they arrived at the Tenpin bowling alley in the Leamington Shopping Park (formerly known as the Shires) and hovered around the tills.
“When one views the CCTV, it is clear they are acting as a team, trying to distract the cashier.”
As two of them succeeded in doing so, another reached over the counter to grab the supervisor card which he then used in the PDQ card-reader to authorise a £3,000 credit card ‘refund.’
Another transaction was attempted, but the cashier realised what was going on and challenged them.
The three fled, chased by the employee who managed to take a picture on his phone of the car in which they drove off.
Three days later the team travelled to The Mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol, where they made attempts to by-pass the chip-and-pin system in the Samsung store.
Three days after that, they returned to Bristol and went to the Avon Valley Garage in Saltford, where an employee spotted two men coming out of his office.
He was suspicious, but it was only a week later when he was contacted and told of a number of fraudulent transactions on his credit card that he realised it had been taken from his desk.
On May 16 the three men switched their attention to Worcester where the manager of the Swarovski shop in High Street saw them acting suspiciously with a bank card, and one of them taking a receipt containing a customer’s details.
It was then found there had been transactions totalling £1,697 using the shop’s card reader, one of which was with a card in Mubarak’s name.
They then went to another High Street shop, Moshulu, where they took items worth £239 and two large credits were made to Mubarak’s card, said Mr Oscroft.
They came unstuck later that day after they tried to use a card to pay for petrol and cigarettes at Corley Services on the M6 near Coventry.
That was unsuccessful, so they paid for the petrol with cash and drove off – but were stopped by the police and arrested.
Mr Oscroft added that the trio had obtained or tried to obtain a total of £8,579.
Sentencing the three, Judge Anthony Potter told them: “This was a campaign of dishonesty conducted by you across a period of some ten days.
“You travelled from your homes in London across the Midlands and the South-West, seeking to obtain money and goods dishonestly. You travelled far and wide to seek to obtain funds, and an aggravating feature is the level of persistence.
“In Leamington you jointly sought to distract a member of staff and used a card which should only have been available to members of staff to authorise refunds in four-figure sums.
“Had you not been stopped by the police at Corley Services as a result of someone realising what you had been up to, it is inevitable you would have continued in this spree.”