Police officer cons Gatwick passengers out of £15,000 by telling them they could not leave UK with more than £1,000
A female police community support officer conned Gatwick passengers out of £15,000 by confiscating cash before their flights took off, saying they could not leave country with more than £1,000.
Alexis Scott, 39, told passengers she would detain them and they would miss their flight if they did not hand over the money.
Scott, who is the mother of a seven-week-old baby, even held out her police hat for unsuspecting victims to deposit the cash as they walked through the departure lounge of the North Terminal. She then kept the money for herself.
During her trial at Canterbury Crown Court, Anthony Prosser, prosecuting, said: "She had no right to take the money from these passengers. She never recorded or logged the fact that she had seized their money and they never got it back. She simply stole it."
Scott conned seven travellers out of a total of £15,000 before she was caught.
Outward-bound passengers at the North Terminal at Gatwick said they had been asked how much cash they were taking out of the country by a woman in police uniform.
Scott told them they were allowed to leave with a maximum of £1,000 and they would have to leave any excess money with her for safekeeping.
Mr Prosser said: "These passengers were selected and spoken to at the departure gate just as the flight was beginning to board."
"Rather than miss their flight these passengers handed over the cash and boarded their flights but when they later tried to contact airport officials to get their money back they found there was no record of their money having been seized.
"It had simply vanished. It has never been recovered."
Sussex Police's Internal Investigation Unit began checking CCTV images against descriptions given by the victims.
They described a dark haired woman wearing a blue uniform, stab vest, radio and bowler hat into which they put the cash.
Scott was soon identified as all officers have to hand in their identity cards to be checked by security staff.
Swipe card records confirmed Scott, formerly of Maresfield, East Sussex, was airside at the relevant time, despite the high-security area being off limits to PCSOs.
Scott had previously worked with a specialist cash detention unit at the airport, the court heard, but it is allowed to act only if it suspects passengers are laundering money for criminal or terrorist activities. A PCSO has no right to seize cash.
Mr Prosser said: "It was the defendant Alexis Scott who took this money and kept it for herself."
The jury heard Scott targeted passengers heading for Turkey, Albania and Vietnam.
The PCSO initially admitted she was had been in the high-security area on one occasion but later refused to comment on the thefts.
Scott was convicted of six counts of theft and abusing her position, and cleared her of one of the theft charges. She denied all charges.
Sentencing was adjourned to a date to be fixed.