Three men who used their positions in a call centre to operate a mobile phone scam which cost their employers £27,000 avoided immediate jail sentences on Wednesday.
All three defendants worked for Convergys when they involved themselves in the criminal enterprise and all three admitted their guilt when arrested.
Michael Forrestal (25) from Mill Pond Glen in Dunmurry, 27-year old John McClelland from Lisavon Drive in Belfast and Joseph Porter (27) from Lagmore Gardens in Belfast were sentenced for fraud offences at Belfast Crown Court.
All three were handed 12-month sentences, which were suspended for three years, by Judge Stephen Fowler QC.
At Wednesday's sentencing, it emerged that the trio's offending came to light when an accounts manager at the Convergys call centre alerted police to report that they had been involved in fraud against the company.
At the time of offending - which spanned from November 2015 to April 2017 - the three defendants were employed to sell and set up mobile phone and broadband contracts.
Over the period in question, one of them would take out a contract which was authorised by one of the co-accused, then subsequently cancelled. The mobile phones that were acquired through the scam were then sold to CEX, and the proceeds were split between all three.
Judge Fowler said the trio obtained a "significant amount" of mobile phones, which resulted in a loss of £27,000 to Convergys. The Judge also spoke of the "protracted period" of offending, which he described as a "significant breach of employer/employee trust."
McClelland and Forrestal pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position and fraud by false representation, while Porter admitted two counts of fraud by abuse of position.
As he sentenced the defendants, Judge Fowler revealed all three men came from stable family backgrounds, have good employment histories and have been assessed by the Probation Board as presenting a "low likelihood" of re-offending.
He also noted all three have expressed remorse and shame, and have not re-offended since their arrests over three years ago.
Imposing suspended sentences on McClelland, Porter and Forrestal, Judge Fowler also ordered all three to pay £2,000 compensation, and gave them six months to pay.