Warning over computer sale scam

CONMEN are preying on bargain-hunters in Essex by offering them a cheap laptop but switching the computer for two bottles of water after they have been paid.

By Juliette Maxam

CONMEN are preying on bargain-hunters in Essex by offering them a cheap laptop but switching the computer for two bottles of water after they have been paid.

In the last five months several people have been conned out of between £200 to £430 in the scam in Witham, Clacton and Colchester.

The latest two cases have taken place in Colchester this week. In the first, in a car park in Culver Street East, on Tuesday, a man handed over £430 for what he thought was a laptop in a case, but it was switched without him noticing and he went away with two bottles of water in a case.

The following day, Wednesday, a student was approached in Sainsbury's car park, at Tollgate. He handed over some cash and once again ended up with water instead of a computer.

In both these cases the tricksters are described as Eastern European, dark, with foreign accents.

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The victim of the Culver Street East scam described one as being 5ft 10ins tall, slim, with short black hair. The other was 5ft 4ins, with a blue checked shirt and beige trousers. They drove away in a blue Rover.

Detective Sergeant Roger Napier, of Colchester police, said a variety of stories have been told by the conmen, ranging from saying the laptop was an unwanted present or it was surplus to requirements to it was stolen.

There have also been a variety of descriptions of the conmen.

The first reported case was in Witham, in April. Recently there were some in Clacton, in Pier Avenue, with the same modus operandi and team as in Colchester, but with a different car, a grey Renault.

Det Sgt Napier said: "It's one of a variety of scams that prey on people wanting to buy a bargain."

He urged people not to buy a computer if they were offered one for sale on the street.

"Don't buy it. Get their vehicle details and let us know as soon as possible," said Det Sgt Napier as a message to the public.

Anyone with information should contact Colchester police on 01206 762212.

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