Shropshire Star

Shropshire couple warn of dangers of online scams after close encounter with fake buyer

A couple have spoken up to warn others about online fraudsters after an abusive encounter on a social media website.

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The couple were selling this horn table - without the sewing machine - online

Angela and Graham Burns, of Newport, say the "alarm bells" rang for them when they were contacted by a fake buyer as they were using Facebook Marketplace to sell items.

The "buyer" asked them to pay £100 to pay for the insurance of them using courier company FedEx to collect a horn table but they were never going to be convinced to do that.

"People should be aware of scams," said Mrs Burns. "They were so plausible to start with but became abusive when we said we weren't going to pay.

One of the clearly fake messages received by the couple

"Do not pay anything up front if you are selling, it's fraudulent.

"They asked for £100 to cover insurance before they paid for a courier to collect our horn table - a sewing table - that we were selling for £150."

Mrs Burns added: "I may be 73 but I was never going to fall for that. But others ought to be aware that they should never pay for anything if they are selling items. The costs of insurance and the courier should be paid by the buyer.

"I'm worried that particularly elderly people could feel pressured into paying as they are more trusting."

She added that the couple have used Facebook Marketplace before to sell items with no issues but this contact came out of the blue last Friday.

"Facebook Marketplace regularly shows warnings about scams so we have no issue with them. And FedEx were good too when we reported the incident to them," said Mrs Burns.

"We have sold items before with no problems, it was just this item which is heavy and they said they needed to have it collected by a courier."

When the couple refused to pay they were contacted by a fake email address purporting to come from FedEx which threatened to "immediately prosecute you in Interpol for breach of trust and fraud". It continued in a characteristic unprofessional manner: "in towards the great service FedEx please go to their payment and made the payment immediately in order to send them the code for who confirms the send thank you."

One of the clearly fake messages received by the couple

Mrs Burns added that the "buyer" deleted conversations made online after becoming abusive.

"She deleted the conversation!" said Mrs Burns. "She got really, really nasty, threatening us with Interpol and the FedEx police."

The couple have since continued to sell items online with no more issues and had three interested in taking the table.

The courier company FedEx says anyone who receives a suspicious email claiming to be from them they should report it to the company.

A spokesman said: "FedEx does not request, via unsolicited mail, text or email, payment or personal information in return for the delivery of goods in FedEx custody.

"If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from FedEx, do not click any links or attachments and report it to and delete the email immediately.

"If your interaction with the unsolicited mail, text or email resulted in financial loss, you should contact your bank immediately."