A HARD-UP father used the internet to con buyers out of cash for goods which did not exist.
Andrew Martin Byrn used photographs of a pram and a bike from Google images, and created a Facebook account under a woman’s name, to con people out of money before deleting his entry on the social networking site.
But after fleecing three customers who thought they were buying a pram, and a fourth who believed they would get a bike, he was tracked down because he gave them the details of his bank account.
The 25-year-old, from Cotsford Park Estate in Horden, pleaded guilty to four charges of fraud by false representation.
Two of the offences were committed on July 19, and the others on August 4. Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard the total amount he made from the scam was £300.
Debra Jones, prosecuting, said: “Four injured parties have seen the items for sale and contacted Mr Byrn and paid money into the bank account, but never received the goods that were advertised.
“Police became involved and found the same bank account was paid into by the victims.
“That was his own bank account and they were able to trace him through that quite easily.
“He was arrested and interviewed and made full and frank admissions to the police, and said he had set up the Facebook account using the name Jennifer Power and used photos from Google images to advertise these items.”
Helen Adams, mitigating, said: “The reasons for this was down to financial difficulties.
“He had a new baby and a two- year-old, and it was down to that pressure he decided this was an easy way to make money.
“He is genuinely remorseful.”
The court heard Byrn offered to pay the money back to the victims when he was caught.
Following a report by probation officers, magistrates gave him a 12-month community order and told him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay £85 court costs and compensation of £130, £80 and £65 to the buggy buyers and £25 to the person who thought they had been buying a balance bike.