Milton Keynes man conned out of £900 by 'magician' thief accuses police of not caring

Gumtree buyer swapped cash for wad of cut-up Aldi leaflets

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 4:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 4:22 pm

A man who was the victim of a nimble-handed Gumtree trickster is pleading with police to investigate.

Stephen Duckett was left almost £900 out of pocket after a clever crook pulled off a con like a magic trick right before his eyes.

He has given police a description of the offender and even the registration number of the car he was driving. But more than two weeks on, he says police have yet to respond.

The contents of the envelope

The clever conman had responded to a Gumtree ad to buy a brand new iPhone 12, which Stephen was selling as an unwanted upgrade.

He arrived at Stephen's Brooklands home on May 11 as agreed and was invited into the kitchen, where he handed over a white window envelope full of cash.

"I went into another room to get the proof that the phone was genuine while my wife opened the envelope and started counting the money. But as she finished he bumped into her, saying it was an accident, causing her to drop the envelope," said Stephen.

His wife bent down to pick up the envelope and put it to one side. Stephen returned to the kitchen and the couple said goodbye to their guest.

This is how the fake envelope looked before it was opened

Shortly afterwards they went to take the money to the bank - only to find they'd been duped.

"Inside the envelope was one £10 note, which was visible through the window part. Underneath that was a pile of Aldi leaflets, cut into note size. We couldn't believe our eyes," said Stephen, who is 37.

The crook had clearly planned the distraction in the kitchen and deftly swapped envelopes, causing Stephen's wife to bend down and pick up the fake one.

"We felt really stupid, but it was a clever con and he must have done it so quickly".

The car driven by the conman

Stephen immediately called police, then set out to knock on doors around the estate, asking if anyone had CCTV of the man driving off.

"I managed to track his route and get clear CCTV clips of his car. I even got the registration number.. I also carefully bagged up the £10 note a leaflets as they could have his fingerprints on for police to examine," he said.

"But the police have still not been out to see me and no investigation officer has made contact. It has bee two weeks and all I've had is one phone call asking me to send CCTV footage.

"I have contacted 101 every day for a update and I am told they will email the officers in charge to make contact. Yet no contact is ever made. "

A Thames Valley Police spokesman told the Citizen: “We are aware of a report of a theft following an incident on 11 May 2021 in which a quantity of cash and a mobile phone was taken. We are reviewing this crime report and will be making contact with the victim.”

Meanwhile Stephen has warned others to beware of the trickster, who he said spoke with a Romanian accent and talked about the best way to send money home to Romania.