Shoaib Chaudhry pretended in one advert on Gumtree to be selling his “old” Apple iPhone 4 specifying “no time wasters”. But those who responded never got what they paid for.
When disgruntled buyers complained the phone had not arrived Chaudhry would fob them off, claiming to have despatched it or made other excuses and then stopped answering their calls.
Matthew Gent, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday that Chaudhry had clearly offered different phones because in other adverts customers were sold an iPhone 4s.
“These were carefully created advertisements designed to attract buyers but he was never intending to send out a phone; that is clearly confidence fraud.”
The buyers were told to transfer funds into Chaudhry’s bank account and seven people handed over sums ranging from £215 to £305 before he was eventually arrested.
He said he had been told by a friend it was an easy way to make money and told a probation officer that the people who responded clearly had the money to lose.
Tom Rushbrooke for Chaudhry said his parents had supported him through college but after he went on to Jobseekers’ Allowance he found himself short of money and had not considered the impact on the buyers.
“He realises in hindsight what a stupid and foolish act this was. There was no expertise in concealing what he had done as he gave his own details and was bound to be found out.”
Chaudhry, 19, of Dryclough Road, Crosland Moor, Huddersfield admitted seven charges of fraud in January dishonestly obtaining £1767.
He was given six months in prison suspended for two years with 250 hours unpaid work and a low level activities requirement. He was also ordered to pay compensation of £10 a fortnight.
Sentencing him Recorder Simon Jackson QC said “These were sophisticated frauds with a degree of planning,”
He said Chaudhry had clearly gone to a lot of trouble because the advert exhibited included pictures of the phone for sale inside and outside its box. “All to lure customers seeking the latest phones at no doubt a discounted price.”
He added: “It is plain you adapted and modified these advertisements to dupe innocent purchasers who parted in good faith with their money.”
Recorder Jackson said when one customer from Scotland chased him for delivery Chaudhry fobbed him off by claiming he was going to use recorded delivery. He then claimed his office was shut and finally that his car had been stolen and he was at the police station at the time of the call.