From the Gazette series, 27 April 2012 (story by Liza-Jane Gillespie)
AN ME sufferer from Thornbury is warning others against internet fraud after she fell victim to a scam and nearly got duped by a second illegal scheme in just one month.
Helen Wood, 22, of Medway Court, lost an iPhone worth hundreds of pounds and almost got cheated out of an iPod.
The young woman put the mobile up for sale for £300 on trade-it.co.uk in March.
She was approached by a Nigerian buyer who offered to buy the iPhone at her asking price and immediately sent it off to him. The sum was supposed to be paid into her Paypal account, but she never received a penny.
Her mother Liz, who is her full-time carer, told the Gazette being scammed had caused her daughter unnecessary stress.
“We were told the money would be in her Paypal account but when we looked there was nothing there. It has got her very upset.”
And the situation got even worse as the days went by as Helen started getting threatening emails warning her she had to pay an outstanding transaction on the iPhone.
Mrs Wood added: “We got many emails from what looked like Paypal saying that someone had paid £650 in her account and that she owed the difference, £350, to the buyer.
“But when I rang Paypal they said the emails were not coming from them.”
And it was not the end of their troubles as Helen nearly fell for a second scam almost simultaneously, when she tried to sell an iPod on the same website.
“Before we had even sent the iPod, we received a cheque for £1,850,” said Mrs Wood.
“The buyer asked us to cash it and send the difference to them. It was a stolen cheque. ”
An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said: “Anyone who has an online banking account is advised to verify emails confirming payment by logging in to their account to check the money has been received. Never send off items until you are absolutely sure the money is in your account.
“Police are aware of a scam in which people offering goods for sale over the internet are offered a cheque for a greater value than the agreed price of the item and asked to cash it and return the excess money. Any such request is suspicious and should be reported to police on 101.”
Trade-it.co.uk administrators also warn users against dubious buyers and cashback fraud on their website.