Distraught parents have had to tell their three children there will be no holiday this year after internet scammers conned them out of £3,000.
Jill Thornhill and partner Antony Wisher were planning a much-needed break at half term, following Antony’s heart attack this summer.
Three weeks ago, they spotted a caravan for sale for £3,700 on a website, which they said looked exactly like auction site eBay.
The couple, who are on benefits because of ill health, scraped together £3,000 by selling their old caravan for £1,900 and making up the rest with money Antony had inherited after his mum died a couple of years ago.
Jill contacted the ‘seller’ by email, who agreed to lower the price and said she would deliver the van to the couple’s Beresford Drive home in Cotmanhay on Friday last week.
She transferred the £3,000 to the account number which the seller had given her and even received an email reply to say the payment had been successful.
But by Saturday there was no sign of the van. Jill called eBay, who told her there they had no record of the transaction and advised her to call the police.
“It’s absolutely terrible,” said Jill, 47, who suffers from high blood pressure, “It was so believable. What they have done to us is just heartbreaking.”
Jill said her son Ashley Middleton, 9, who is autistic, her daughter Charleyanne Middleton, 8, and Antony’s daughter Chloe, 11, were ‘absolutely distraught’ when they told them they were not going away this half term.
“Every time we talk about it one of the kids just burst out crying,” added Jill.
Police confirmed that they have referred Jill to Action Fraud, a national agency which tackles internet crime, who are now investigating.
Asked if she could give advice to people thinking of buying off the internet, Julie said: “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”