Provided that the requirement as to payment under the s.1(2) of the Theft Act 1978 was satisfied, a person would be guilty of the offence of obtaining services by deception if he dishonestly induced a bank or building society to provide banking or credit card services. Furthermore, the dishonest operation of a bank or building society account over a period and the dishonest use of a credit card over a period constituted obtaining services within s.1(1).The appellant (S) appealed against his conviction on three counts of obtaining services by deception (counts 1, 2 and 5 on the indictment) contrary to the s.1(1) Theft Act 1978 and one count of attempting to obtain services by deception (count 4 on the indictment). In all counts it was alleged that S had pretended to be other people to deceive or attempt to deceive financial providers into granting him banking services or credit card facilities. In count 1 it was alleged that over a period of several years he had, by using a false name, obtained loans from a bank and caused the relevant bank account to be overdrawn. In count 2 it was alleged that S had used another bank account in another name on 42 occasions over a period of six weeks, during which time it became overdrawn. In count 4 it was alleged that S had attempted to open a bank account by producing false documents. In count 5 it was alleged that he had obtained a store credit card in a false name and that he had used it on 51 occasions to obtain goods which exceeded in value the credit limit on the card. The jury convicted S on all four counts. S contended that: (1) there was no "obtaining of services" within s.1 of the 1978 Act because it had not been established that he had opened the bank accounts; (2) if, for the purposes of counts 1 and 2, services had been obtained as part of a continuous process of operating the bank accounts dishonestly, the counts were embarrassingly duplicitous because he had been unable to know which of the various events within the relevant period constituted the obtaining of services alleged; and (3) there was insufficient evidence in respect of each of the counts to sustain the necessary understanding or agreement that the benefit would be paid for.HELD: (1) Dishonestly inducing a bank or building society to provide banking or credit card services fell within s.1(1) of the 1978 Act. Furthermore, inducing a bank or building society to open an account constituted obtaining services, as did inducing a bank or other organisation to issue a credit card. Moreover, the dishonest operation of a bank or building society account and the dishonest use of a credit card constituted obtaining services within s.1(1). (2) Counts 1 and 2 did not charge more than one offence and were not duplicitous. The case, which S had to meet, was clear. The case was proved if the jury were satisfied that he had dishonestly and by a continuing deception operated the accounts, with the necessary understanding as to payment, during the whole or any part of the period between the dates specified. (3) S had been comprehensively dishonest, and there had been sufficient evidence from which the jury could infer, in respect of all the counts, the necessary understanding as to payment.Appeal dismissed.

[2003] EWCA Crim 3681

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