Trading Standards officers have warned people to take care when buying goods via social media after an online crook from Wrexham who issued threats to her customers was brought to book.
Tiffany Stanley, of Caia Park, was ordered to pay more than £1,000 in compensation and costs after trading fraudulently over social media.
She appeared before Wrexham Magistrates Court where she was sentenced to a 12-monthcommunity order and told to repay £337.88 to six of her customers who had provided statements to Trading Standards officials.
Magistrates said Stanley, 26, had shown a “wanton disregard” for the law and that her offences could have warranted a prison sentence.
Now Wrexham Council’s Trading Standards team is warning anyone buying online to take precautions to ensure they do not fall victim to fraud.
A council spokesman said: “This sends a clear message to anybody trading online and in particular through social media that, despite the anonymity of the internet, where it is used to defraud consumers Trading Standards will take all the necessary steps to track down the individuals involved and ensure illegal activity like this is not tolerated.”
Stanley used Facebook to trade goods online but repeatedly failed to send paid-for items to customers and failed to reimburse them when goods were not delivered.
She was said to have often been abusive to those who tried to find out what had happened to their goods or those who asked for refunds.
The council says that even when she was contacted by Trading Standards, Stanley failed to follow the advice provided and continued to trade dishonestly.
She admitted a number of unfair trading offences including fraud.
As well as being ordered to take part in a 10-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and pay compensation, she was told to pay £740.88 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.
The spokesman added: “We repeatedly contacted Miss Stanley, but offers of support were not taken up and Miss Stanley continued to trade in a fraudulent manner, despite giving assurances that she would cease trading.
“She subjected consumers to abusive and aggressive messages which they did not deserve.
“Many consumers were vulnerable after purchasing items for family members who had passed away and this only added to their grief.
“Illegal activity like this will quite simply not be tolerated in Wrexham.”
The council advises anyone buying online to use secure payment services like PayPal or credit cards for added protection when transactions are over £100.
It says people should be wary about making direct transfers into sellers’ bank accounts and always be sure they know the seller’s details and where they are based.
Legitimate online retailer businesses are obliged to provide information regarding customers’ rights, including any cooling-off periods.
Anyone with issues with goods paid for and not received should report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.