Desperate Facebook fraudster targeted shoppers
A fraudster used a ‘nice little scam’ to con online shoppers out of more than £1,000 selling goods which she didn’t actually have.
Victoria Jones sold chair covers, Yankee Candles, wedding table number holders and other wedding items to shoppers through Shpock, Pre Loved and Facebook to customers without actually having the items to sell.
Innocent shoppers were conned out of cash ranging from £20 to £400 by Jones, of Perse House Street, Chuckery, Walsall, who pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud by false representation at Walsall Magistrates Court.
Six of these related to the online sales, however one charge was put to her because she had took out a phone contract using the name and details of an old school friend.
Prosecuting, Ms Rachel Smith said: “This has led to a considerable amount of damage for the victims. A lot of these purchases were made by people looking to start their own business and they have been robbed of money that would have been very valuable early on in their journey.”
“Some have been left feeling unable to trust these sites and some have just decided not to go ahead with starting their business.
“One victim in particular was very upset because the seller had her address, she felt panicked every time someone came to the door.”
The court heard that Jones, who sold the items between February and December last year, was given a six-month community order in December for ‘an almost identical’ series of crimes. These were carried out in 2015.
Defence solicitor, Ms Catherine McTigue, said: “This comes out of desperation, the defendant has big financial problems and was doing this to try and clear her debts.”
“She lost her disability allowance and this has led to her really struggling with cash.
“She has not done anything like this since last December, when she was given the community order.”
The total value of the items sold came to £1,100, with the cost of the phone bill run up in the name of her friend coming to £597.
Jones was ordered to pay back £25 to her victims, as well as paying a single victim surcharge of £85. She was also told to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work over the next 12 months. Judge David Webster said: “It appears to me that you had a nice little scam going on here. However,If you are caught again, I fail to see how you will not be sent to prison.”