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25 July 2012, 06:00
Two men and a woman from Radlett have been arrested in connection with a vehicle selling scam that saw victims being defrauded of thousands of pounds.
All of the vehicles in question were advertised for sale on various different websites and after agreeing sales, buyers transferred large amounts of money to the seller's bank account.
But the seller then stopped replying to emails and phone calls and the vehicles were never delivered and no funds ever returned.
A 46-year-old man from the USA fell victim to the scam and lost £13,000 when he thought he was buying a Can-Am Spyder three-wheeled motorbike.
Other victims were: a 30-year-old from South Yorkshire, who lost £2,500 trying to purchase a boat that never arrived; a 44-year-old man from Hull, who lost £7,000 trying to buy a car; a couple from Shropshire that lost £3,500 in attempting to purchase a Lambretta scooter; a 40-year-old man from Herefordshire who lost £4,500 buying a car; a 50-year-old again from the USA who lost almost £2,000 trying to buy a horse box; and a 19-year-old from London who paid £5,100 for an Audi A4.
All of the offences have been linked by police as they are believed to be part of the same internet scam. Police have launched Operation Bind to investigate the offences.
Assistant Investigator Charlotte Hartley, from the Borehamwood Local Crime Investigation Unit, said: "We would advise buyers to exercise extreme caution when transferring such large sums of money to unknown sellers on the internet.
"Bear in mind that these people are strangers and to avoid problems you should do your utmost to ensure that the seller is genuine."
Police have now issued the following advice to people purchasing vehicles and other high-value goods on the internet:
Anyone with information about the incident or who believes they may have been a victim of the scam should contact officers on Operation Bind on the non-emergency number 101. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers, the independent charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111.
A 26-year-old man, a 38-year-old man and 35-year-old woman from Radlett have been arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation. They have been released on police bail while investigations continue.