Police are warning members of the public to be vigilant when buying items from free advertising sites such as Gumtree.
Suspects have been advertising white goods for sale on internet websites and delivering the items to customers. However, when the items are delivered they are not of the description that was advertised on the adverts.
One Exeter woman had ordered a fridge from Gumtree and was left distressed after a man delivered an item wrapped in black plastic. Before the woman had chance to unwrap the package the suspect took the cash and drove off in a white transit van.
There have been several incidents reported to police in the Exeter, Lympstone and Brixham areas.
Police Constable Keith Bradshaw said: “When the victim removed the black plastic, the item was old, broken and worthless; possibly from a recycling centre.
“The suspects are keen to deliver goods right into the homes of victims and then leave quickly before the condition of the item can be seen.
“On one occasion a man from Brixham had a washing machine delivered to his home, whilst he was unwrapping the item to have a look at it, the suspect took the cash from the man’s hand and drove off in a Ford transit van.”
Reports have also been made of similar scams on Facebook ‘buy and sell’ sites. Police are asking people to report anything suspicious.
Please contact police on 101 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org quoting crime reference CR/13217/16.
Alternatively information can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org