BRITS have been shocked to learn that Tesco’s beloved Clubcard scheme was set up because of a blackmail plot by a deranged customer.

In 1995 Frank Riolfo claimed that he had HIV and threatened to contaminate food unless the supermarket launched the cards used today by more than 20 million people in the UK alone.

The then 50-year-old from Dudley demanded £250,000 – but only managed to steal £7,000 before being caught.

His bizarre plot began when he called up the manager of a Tesco store in Kettering, Northamptonshire, calling himself St Mary-Ann.

Riolfo told the shop boss he had contaminated food at the store – and when staff searched the shop they found a pack of frozen peas and butterfly prawns had been injected with black ink.

Three days later he sent a blackmail demand to Tesco’s head office – demanding they set up a Clubcard scheme to pay him.


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It read: ''As you know by now, the food was contaminated with pen ink. It could so easily have been a toxic substance. 

“I am fully prepared to extend my actions unless my demands are met.''

At first, Tesco refused to go along with the scheme – so once again Riolfo injected frozen meat, this time at the Dudley store.

He continued to threaten the company, saying: ''I have Aids. So I have a ready-made supply of infected blood.''

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Tesco, afraid of the repercussion, finally agreed to go along with his plan and launched the Clubcard promotion at the Dudley store.

The cards secretly carried details, in a magnetic strip, of a bank account from which Riolfo would withdraw cash.

Riolfo told Tesco to inform him of the PIN number by placing a coded advert in the personal announcements section of The Times.

Once he had all the information, Riolfo and his wife toured the country withdrawing money from cashpoint around the country.

However, on April 22, 1995, after taking just £7,000 out of the Barclay’s account, the pair were arrested at a cashpoint in Slough, Berkshire.

The former lance corporal in the Royal Army Medical Corps, was jailed for eight years by Northampton Crown Court after admitting the plot.

Twitter users were today stunned at hearing the story after one user posted it online.

He wrote: “Tesco Clubcard is in the news, a good excuse to revisit the absolutely insane way it was first introduced.”

Another person joked: “This is a three-part ITV miniseries.”

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A third said: “Completely wild, we're all walking around with evidence in our wallets.”

The Sun has approached Tesco for comment.

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