A family have had their hopes of a fun-filled summer holiday dashed after an online fraudster scammed them out of their life-savings.
Kirsty Hannaby and her husband Jon of Bennetts End had been excitedly searching for an affordable caravan to take their four children aged 13, seven, six and four away during the school holidays.
But after becoming victims of a cruel hoax which sent out fake eBay emails and documentation, the family are now £3,200 out of pocket and without their dream holiday home.
Kirsty said: “This week has been a living nightmare. I am so frustrated and upset. I feel so stupid, but the whole thing was completely convincing.”
The 42-year-old had found a second-hand caravan within her budget on an ads listing site, and began contacting the seller directly through email.
After processing her payment for the sale through a counterfeit eBay link sent by the seller, Kirsty waited excitedly for the delivery, but it never came.
She added: “I was like a kid at Christmas waiting for the caravan, but then to have to tell your children it is not arriving and some horrible, mystery person has taken our money is just devastating. The kids are so upset about it.
“I have been through all the emotions, I was crying my eyes out and then I was angry but now I am just drained. It seems no-one is able to help us.”
Hannah McCarthy of Action Fraud, to whom Kirsty has reported the heartless con, said: “If a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Buyers should always make sure they check as best as they can who they’re buying from is a certified and trusted dealer before they hand over any money.”
The authority says online shopping crooks rely on the anonymity of the internet, so victims often have no real prospect of getting their money back.
Kirsty said: “We want to warn other people so they don’t get duped like us. This has been a very bitter pill to swallow.”