Facebook fraudster sentenced after disappointed holidaymakers scammed out of thousands of pounds
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They parted with cash for breaks which included trips to Mexico and Benidorm and spa breaks which did not exist or had not been paid for.
One victim lost £1,242 and the others £880 and £300 in an online con which Brooke Reay, 25, perpetuated by letting fraudsters use her bank account.
All were from South Shields and lost money within the first two weeks of 2018, magistrates in South Tyneside heard.
Although Reay, of Dunstonburgh Road, Byker, Newcastle, formerly of South Shields and Sunderland, may have been an unwitting party, she was involved in a similar crime around the same time.
Prosecutor John Graham said fake holiday adverts were put on the social media site and the payments directed through Reay’s account.
He said: “This is a Facebook fraud. We’re not saying this lady was the author of the adverts or the mastermind.
“She let her bank account be used for the money from these frauds to pass through.”
Mr Graham said the first person scammed handed over £80 for a break at York’s Marmaduke Hotel.
She returned to the same Facebook message link and forked out £800 for an overseas break.
But soon afterward she received an online message saying the site was a scam and was also contacted by the hotel to say her stay had not been paid.
The second victim coughed up £300 for a spa break at the Ramside Hall in County Durham – and again lost her money due to the fraudulent booking.
Mr Graham added: “She also received a message on Facebook telling her the booking was a scam.
“She contacted Ramside Hall but was told it was booked with a stolen credit card.”
The final victim also followed the same link and paid £300 for a three-night trip to Benidorm.
She also paid £340 for a spa afternoon and a £600 deposit for a holiday to Mexico.
Mr Graham said: “When she didn’t get confirmation, she contacted the profile and was abused.
“The police were contacted about this defendant because it was her bank account that had been used.”
Kevin Smallcombe, defending, said: “She’s not before the court for organising a sophisticated scam.
“She was involved in a chat group and was asked, as a member of the chat group, if she would allow her account to be used, which she did.
“She had no connection with the Facebook pages, she was only allowing her account to be used.
“She allowed the money to go through her account. As of that stage, she was a lady of good character.”
Reay pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by false representation in that she pretended to be a travel broker.
Magistrates ordered her to pay £2,617 in compensation and sentenced her to a 12-month community order.
It has a requirement of 15 days of rehabilitation work with the Probation Service and 90 hours of unpaid work.
She must pay a £95 victim surcharge. There were no court costs.
The court heard no-one else had been charged in connection with the fraud.