I once crossed paths with an individual boasting about his technique for getting free stuff. He would go online and search for people selling second-hand "nearly new" gear that was still within their warranty period, contact the seller and ask for model numbers, receipt numbers or other identifying marks claiming he wanted them to do background checks on the item whilst feigning extreme interest in the purchase of whatever it was. He would then take what he had learnt to the manufacturer/vendor and claim his product was broken, and he would like to send it in for repair.
Rather than sending the product, as he obviously did not have it, he would send a box that had been cut open/resealed in such a way that it was highly plausible the item was taken in transit by some nefarious person in the hauliers chain of command, when this was discovered at the receiving end he would act outraged and demand action be taken, usually resulting in the vendor sending him a new item in its place.
Obviously this whole act seems highly illegal, and probably falls under some form of social engineering scam and is clearly fraud, but what i want to know is what sort of legal ramifications can come about as a result of this scheme? Would it simply be a civil matter that, if discovered, would only be resolved by being taken to court in a civil case, or could the consequences possibly lead to things like jail time?
For the sake of this question and the fact it may differ country to country, lets say this event occurred either in the US or the UK (or some similar European nation) as these are the legal systems I am most familiar with