A FRAUDSTER who was jailed for two years last month is out of prison already, The Northern Echo can reveal.
It is only eight weeks since Kirsty Cox was locked up for an iPad scam which left dozens of people out-of-pocket.
Yet, because she had spent some time behind bars after her arrest in December 2012, she has been freed early.
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Details of her release emerged yesterday when the 37-year-old was back in court to face a compensation order.
A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing was held to determine what assets she has so she can repay her angry victims.
Judge George Moorhouse ruled that Cox had made a criminal benefit of £450,000 from her "ludicrous" venture.
The only asset she has is a £37,000 equitable interest in a house, prosecutor Shaun Dodds told the judge.
Mother-of-two Cox, from Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, has been given six months to hand over the money to police.
If she fails to do so, she will have to serve a further 15 months in prison in default, said the judge.
Mr Dodds said: "The £37,000 will be distributed among the victims in the case. They will be compensated."
It is understood that 42 people will get a share of the money once it has been received by financial investigators.
Last month, Teesside Crown Court heard how Cox duped customers into believing she could provide cut-price iPads.
She offered half-price tablets but ended up buying them at full-price from shops and passing them on at a huge loss.
Word had quickly spread about the deals, and thousands of orders were placed by people keen on an apparent bargain.
Cox, of Welllbury Road, Newton Aycliffe, pleaded guilty to four charges of fraud, which amounted to £450,000.
By the time she was arrested in December 2012, a mob of "disgruntled" customers had gathered outside her home.
After she was arrested, she was kept in custody for her own safety, because of the anger she caused locally.
Her barrister, Paul Cleasby, said the six months behind bars and apart from her two children had been "a massive wrench".
Yesterday, her release appeared to surprise the judge who passed a two-year sentence just 53 days ago.
After the brief hearing, Judge Moorhouse told Cox to go with the security officer accompanying her in the dock.
Mr Cleasby told the judge: "She has already served her sentence."