A Lincoln family who have fallen victim to a £14,000 scam are warning others to never hand over any money until they have received the product.
Paul Harding-Hubbard, 51, who is a paramedic, and wife Emma, 37, a cardiology nurse, re-mortgaged their Lincoln home to enable them to buy their dream family motorhome.
Mr Harding-Hubbard found what he had thought was the perfect motorhome on Ebay and contacted the seller via the telephone.
After long conversations with the motorhome owner, who called herself Tina, he paid her £14,000.
The next day Mr and Mrs Harding-Hubbard and their three young children Marley, Maxwell and Maisie, embarked on a two hour journey to Norfolk to collect the motorhome but when they arrived they were told by the occupant that it was a scam and that three other families had attended that week to collect the same motorhome.
Mr Harding-Hubbard says he had done everything he could to ensure this was not a scam. He said he had carried out a check of the vehicle with DVLA and also researched it on the Internet.
He said: “The woman, who went by the name of Tina Corcoran, was very good. She sounded like a really nice woman, like an elderly woman in her 70s. All of the information she gave me such as the motorhome’s millage, and when it was last sold all matched my research on the Internet.
“Tina explained that a dealer was interested in the motorhome and was going around to view it on the weekend but after explaining we were frontline workers she said she would speak to her husband.
“Tina did speak with her husband and came back to me a short while later and said that they wanted to sell us the motorhome as we were frontline workers. We were made up by this news.”
‘Tina’ told Mr Harding-Hubbard that her husband had sciatica and struggled to drive so they were looking to buy a static caravan instead.
However, still in doubt, Mr Harding-Hubbard carried out further research, asking ‘Tina’ various questions.
He said: “She was so convincing, she had an answer for every question I asked her. She said she lived in a bungalow and described what items she had in her windows. I looked the property up and everything she had described was there in the window.
“I carried out every check I could have, even contacting the fraud team before I paid the money to ‘Tina’ via a bank transfer.
“We were absolutely devastated when we arrived in Norfolk to see no motorhome on the drive. My family and I were heartbroken.
“You just feel empty. I have re-mortgaged so I am going to be paying until I am 70 years-old and paying for nothing.
“Please, if you are planning on buying high value items do not hand over any money until you have the item. If it is genuine seller they will not ask for money before you have seen the product. Also check the Evsa group on Ebay which has a lot of information on these types of scams and you may just spot the van on there you are thinking about buying.”
Mr Harding-Hubbard has contacted the police and the banks and Action Fraud is investigating this incident.
Mr Harding-Hubbard has shared his story as part of a national scam and fraud campaign which has been supported by Deputy PCC Stuart Tweedale.
Mr Tweedale has been taking to the road with PCSO Nigel Wass to warn people across the county about the issue and how to protect themselves as part of the Scams Awareness Fortnight – which runs until June 28th.
He has visited Tesco stories throughout Lincolnshire to promote the #ScamAware message and has teamed up with Lincolnshire Police to create a leaflet to avoid residents falling prey to a “test and trace” scam.
“The coronavirus crisis means more people are facing issues – from employment and debt, to housing and health – resulting in more people being in vulnerable situations,” Mr Tweedale said.
“In addition, the overall heightened uncertainty and anxiety caused by the pandemic is making everyone more vulnerable and more likely to fall victim to a scam. Empowering the public against scams is crucial during these uncertain times.”
For further crime advice visit https://www.lincs.police.uk/reporting-advice/fraud-and-scams/
If you need to report a non-urgernt crime call 101, in an emergency call 999.