THE mother of a youngster with devastating cystic fibrosis has been duped out of £6,500 by a conman posing as a car dealer.
Sandra Moss needed to upgrade her 14 year old Mercedes car to ensure she could take her 12-year-old daughter Natalia to hospital appointments in at Manchester Children’s Hospital.
She put the offer in on a Ford C-Max but realised she had been conned when the car was not delivered to her Blackrod home.
Miss Moss has been left in debt to relatives she loaned money from and with a car that she fears may not be reliable for much longer.
Now, she wants to warn others to prevent people falling victim to fraudsters.
The 55-year-old said: “I feel ridiculously stupid but I want to save other people from becoming victim. I was horrified, I didn’t know where to turn to when it happened. It has been a bitter pill to swallow.
"I explained to the man about my daughter’s situation and told him I couldn’t afford to run my car anymore as I’m going backwards and forwards to the hospital. I told him I had to use my savings.
“The car I saw on the website seemed to be perfect, I thought it was just what I wanted. He told me it was a family business and said if I wasn’t happy they would refund the money.
"It all sounded really good and he roped me in. I am under no illusions, I don’t think I will ever get the money back.”
Miss Moss, an ambulance driver, came across the seller on online auction site, eBay, and believed it was a legitimate car dealership after speaking to the alleged owner several times.
She transferred the funds in two transactions to two different accounts after the seller assured her that it was fine to send cash to his “business accounts” to secure the sale rather than through eBay’s Paypal, which is a secure way of sending and receiving payments online.
Miss Moss believed her car would be taken in part exchange to pay the remaining £1,500 of the £8,000 balance.
But the three-year-old car did not arrive on the arranged date in May and the conman ignored repeated phone calls and an email.
Miss Moss said: “I felt pressured to get a new car because of my daughter’s health, I am reliant on my car. I am such an honest person. I can’t believe he knew my circumstances and he still did this. You are so gullible you don’t think for one minute someone would get away with doing this. He was so plausible and charming. I was trusting.”
After transferring the money Miss Moss even contacted the seller to see if he would still accept her car because a warning light had come on.
Her sister loaned her £2,000 towards the car and she was going to repay it.
But her elderly mother has now repaid the loan and Miss Moss will gradually return the money to her.
Due to the crime she felt unable to go to work for a week.
The alleged company, which The Bolton News is not naming due to an ongoing police investigation, still appears to be trading but has been taken off eBay.
The incident has been reported to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre, and Bolton North Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT).
Det Insp Charlotte Cadden, from Bolton North NPT, advised people not to buy vehicles from seller unless they have met them, have seen the car before exchanging money and checked relevant documents.
She added that people should research the company before parting with cash.
Det Insp Cadden said: “If the person has voluntarily got into a contract with somebody and agreed to put money into their bank account it is treated differently by banks.
“If people use eBay they have more protection through Paypal, people should not be tempted to transfer money to bank accounts. The more checks you can do about the seller the better. You can Google companies to see if there is any negative feedback.”
A spokesman for eBay, added: “Criminal activity is not tolerated on eBay and we work closely with the police to keep eBay safe, providing them with tools to request information and assistance with their investigations.
“We are sorry to hear about this case, which is an important reminder that any transaction not completed on eBay, including a purchase following an eBay Classified advert listing, is a personal transaction between the buyer and seller.
“Much like responding to a classified advert in a newspaper, buyers should make sure they are satisfied with the goods before paying for them, as they won’t have access to eBay Money Back Guarantee or other protections. To put it simply — if you’re buying on email, you’re not on eBay.”
Online frauds need to be reported to actionfraud.police.uk in the first instance and 0300 123 2040.