Clubcard promotion

In January 1995, Frank Riolfo, a former member of the Royal Army Medical Corps, attempted to blackmail Tesco.

Threatening to inject AIDS-infected blood into stock, Riolfo demanded the company make loyalty cards available to customers. The cards, he specified, were to contain magnetic strips allowing them to secretly function as ATM cash withdrawal cards.

Coded copies of the PIN code were published under his instruction in National newspapers. Clubcard was subsequently launched nationally with a Direct Marketing campaign by Evans Hunt Scott, Terry Hunt’s advertising agency. Hundreds of customers, including Riolfo’s wife, signed up to the scheme and collected a card.

Riolfo and his wife then toured the country withdrawing cash until they were eventually caught on April 22, 1995. Frank Riolfo pleaded guilty and was jailed for six years, after appeal.

Little coverage of these events remains online, although they were fictionalised by performance poet Alexander Velky as The Marketing Genius of Frank Riolfo. The loyalty card scheme was not discontinued.

He forced the introduction of the previously trialed discount card. There are now over 15 million Clubcard members in the UK, driving consumer loyalty and making Tesco a huge profit.