BARGAIN hunters are being warned against scam artists in the run up to Christmas after a Limerick mother was duped out of almost €500 for what turned out to be a bag of sugar.
The woman and her son travelled to Dublin on the train last week after responding to an advert on the DoneDeal website offering a new iPhone 6 at a knockdown price. She wanted the high-spec smartphone as a Christmas present for her son.
“We travelled up for the phone, thinking it was all legal and we looked at the phone. We discussed the details of payment. Everything was sorted as I thought,” the mother, who referred to herself as ‘Frances’, told RTE’s Liveline.
She was met by a man at Supermacs restaurant in the station. They completed the transaction in a car outside the station where there was another man and she was given a plastic bag.
“I wanted to get my son to check the phone, the SIM card and everything seemed to be fine,” she explained.
“Everything was new, the phone, the box it was in and everything.
“My son had the phone and he handed the guy the box. We saw him putting it into the box and then they put it into a bag. Obviously something happened that they swapped the bags or something.
“We thought the phone was in the bag, but when we went back into Supermacs to get something to eat, because it’s a long journey between Limerick and Dublin, we went to check the phone. When we opened the bag, there was a two-pound bag of sugar inside.
“There was no phone. It was gone and the money was gone.”
Gardaí have since reviewed CCTV footage to identify the men involved but the trauma has left the mother and son devastated.
“My son has a disability, he’s been in and out of hospital for the last 17 years,” Frances told Liveline.
“He’s devastated, he didn’t want to go to school over the situation. I had to make him go to school. I’m begging them to give me back my money so I can buy my son one present for Christmas.
“I can’t afford to come out with that amount of money between now and Christmas. It’s hard enough to keep going, I work everyday as a single mother and this is what happens. Something has to be done.”
Under the DoneDeal.ie regulations, the company says they do not “control the content of advertisements posted by users”.
“We do not control the content of advertisements posted by users on the Website, and we do not guarantee the accuracy, integrity or quality of the content. You understand that by using the Website, you may be exposed to content that is offensive, indecent or objectionable without liability”, the regulations state.