A FORMER law firm worker who conned her friends and family out of nearly a quarter-of-a-million pounds in an Apple gadget fraud claimed she “did it for the kudos.”

Nicola Eccleson told lifelong friends, family and pals of her relatives that she could get iPhones, iPads and iPods for as little as £100.

But she was unable to get the top-of-the-range gadgets for the knockdown prices she claimed and was actually paying full price.

Eccleson, 36, conned her victims out of a total of £237,885 in her year-long scam, which saw her loved ones invest thousands and receive a small number of gadgets in return.

Now she has finally paid the price for her antics as Sheriff David Pender caged her for three years.

Eccleson, who lived in Erskine at the time, duped her 14 victims by claiming she was entitled to discounts on the expensive electronics through her role as a legal secretary at Glasgow law firm TLT Solicitors and its ‘friends and family’ scheme.

But the discounts did not exist and she boasted she “felt like an Apple delivery driver” as she took money from her own friends, her brother’s best pal, her husband’s uncle and others.

Eccleson took small amounts of money from a few customers and delivered the items they had requested, prompting them, and others, to pay her tens of thousands of pounds for more gadgets.

But she took their money, failed to deliver all of the goods and did not give full refunds.

Her scheme began to unravel in August 2013, when Thomas McEntegart, head of TLT Solicitors, received a phone call from one of Eccleson’s concerned customers.

He said the ‘friends and family’ scheme did not exist and told them to contact the police – leading to the investigation into Eccleston’s scam.

Last month, at Paisley Sheriff Court, she pleaded guilty to obtaining the money by forming a fraudulent scheme between August 1, 2012, and August 31, 2013, by telling her victims she “could supply them with various electronic products at discounted prices.”

Sentence was deferred for background reports and she has now returned to the dock to learn her fate.

Defence solicitor advocate Des Finnieston said Eccleson had duped her victims for a confidence boost and had not benefited financially from the scam as she had paid full price for the items she did supply.

He explained: “She did it for the kudos and to make herself appear to be able to get great deals for friends and family.

“The Crown have not put any evidence to the contrary, like secret bank accounts or assets of any nature.”

However, Sheriff David Pender said he found it “rather hard to believe” that Eccleson, who moved to Grangemouth after her scam unravelled, hadn’t made any money from her ruse.

He jailed her for three years, reduced from four years as she had admitted her guilt.

A group of Eccleson’s victims cheered so loudly at the news she was being jailed that they were ejected from court.

Their bid for compensation for their losses was flung out by Sheriff Pender, who said: “To award compensation I must be satisfied that you have the means to pay it and I’m not satisfied that you do.

“This doesn’t mean the victims can’t pursue a civil case.”