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Conman jailed after fleecing 51 people online

Nine-month spree netted fraudster £15,000

A swindler who ripped off more than 50 people using the online advertising site Gumtree has been sent to prison. Justin Waters offered items for sale that he never had, and then pocketed the cash before vanishing. Canterbury Crown Court heard he then used the names of pals to set up more fictitious deals offering items including engine parts, metal detectors, motorcycle gear and Slush Puppie machines. Prosecutor Kieran Brand said:

“The items were offered during a period from December 2013 to August last year and valued at between £35 and £592. During this time he used aliases from people he knew and got [buyers] to share bank details.”

Marine mechanic Waters, 41, of Reculver Lane, Reculver, then contacted would-be customers and agreed deals. Money was sent by the victims, but the items were never delivered. Mr Brand said it was estimated that 51 victims had come forward and the scam had netted Waters up to £15,000. The conman, who has previous convictions for obtaining property by deception, theft and fraud, admitted six counts of fraud and asked for another 45 to be taken into consideration. Mr Brand said that police who quizzed him noted he “seemed almost relieved to disclose he had defrauded the people in question”. The prosecutor said that some years ago Waters was jailed for 44 months for drug offences in Spain. Simon Taylor, defending, said Waters hit on the Gumtree scam because of financial difficulties.

“He lost the ability to fund his drug addiction and turned to crime,”

he added. Jailing him for 15 months, Judge James O’Mahony told the scam artist:

“Lots of people these days find themselves in financial difficulties. They just don’t go around ripping other people off! You were persistently defrauding individuals through Gumtree.”

Herne Bay Gazette, January 15th 2015

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