Customers thinking they were buying from a legitimate Essex pawnbroker have lost their money owing to fraudsters 'trading' under his name.
The fraud affected people who were trying to buy from Essex Cash Xchange, in Shoebury. They paid for their goods via PayPal but the items were never received.
The business owner said: “They used our shop name and they put on their page our full address and phone number. We found out because a lady from Yorkshire rang us and asked to speak to ‘Joe’, but nobody with that name works here.” The unsuspecting woman had been defrauded, as had a man who visited the shop having bought some headphones.
The fraud was reported to police and the business found that its details had been pulled off its Facebook page. The fraudsters were by then posing as Cash-In-Hand, which has shop branches in Colchester and Braintree. Cash-In-Hand's branch manager was alerted to the scam by the owner of Essex Cash Xchange. He commented: “We want everyone to know this is not us. We don’t sell stuff through our Facebook page. If you are unsure then please ring the store. Hopefully the police will be able to trace them before it drags our reputation through the mud.”
Complaints have been received from people as far away as Kings Lynn and Bristol. The branch manager has reported the scam to both Facebook and the police and it is now being investigated by Action Fraud.