A Dunchurch man shelled out £3,500 of his hard-earned savings on his dream boat – only to find out it didn’t exist.
Matthew Tunley is now warning others to be on their guard after he was duped in an online scam by a user claiming they were newly bereaved.
He set up a Facebook group and has saved another woman from the same fate.
She was going to splash out thousands of pounds on a caravan from someone using the same name and technique as Matthew’s seller.
Matthew said: “I saved up over a period of time to buy a boat as it’s something I’ve always wanted.
“I’d done a lot of research to find the one I wanted and I found what I thought was my dream boat on a selling site.”
He said the seller seemed genuine and suggested Matthew could have a private viewing on Facebook and give the money through Paypal.
“The lady said she was selling the boat because her husband had just died. We exchanged several emails and she seemed lovely and genuine,” he said.
“It was after I paid the emails stopped and I thought to myself “what have I done?” My girlfriend, Limara, reassured me but I know we both knew deep down there was no boat.”
He contacted Ebay and Paypal but the user ID was fake and the money had been taken from an account in Poland.
“It’s very difficult,” said Matthew. “Losing the money is devastating. I can’t claim it back, but the fact I’ve seen it for myself, that people are doing this on a daily basis, is what I’m more upset about.”
Partner Limara said Matthew had waited so long to get the boat he wanted.
“It was a beautiful blue Avon Adventure at a price Matthew could afford,” she said. “The money is gone – I just feel so sad because Matthew is the nicest person you could ever meet.”
The incident has been reported to the police and Action Fraud.
Cllr Les Caborn, the county councillor responsible for community safety, said: “It’s increasingly important that consumers are aware of their internet shopping rights and what they can do to protect themselves in this ever-expanding marketplace.”
Cllr Richard Chattaway, chair of the county council’s overview and scrutiny committee, added: “Every week, Warwickshire Trading Standards receives complaints from online shoppers who inadvertently bought counterfeit goods, or the trader they paid disappeared or the goods or services they purchased never arrived.”
“Warwickshire Trading Standards is working to help ensure internet shopping experiences are both safe and secure and that online shoppers are protected from bogus sellers and other forms of cyber-crime.”