A Birmingham husband and wife conned more than 50 victims into buying non-existent iPhones and watches on Instagram.
Saqib Bashir and his wife Rimla Chaudurey made almost £14,824 by setting up a string of bogus web companies between September 2013 and April 2014.
They advertised the valuables online and simply pocketed the cash from the orders they received.
But they were arrested in January last year and later charged with fraud when angry customers called in the police.
Bashir, 27, and his 24-year-old wife, from Washwood Heath, were each handed eight-month suspended jail sentences at Birmingham Crown Court.
The court was told the pair used bogus online firms called Cosmetic Bargains, Alinas Accessories, Designer Discounts, Crystal Discounts, Designer Boutique, Designer Couture, and Beauty Boutiqu3 to dupe customers.
Bashir initially denied the offence, claiming he had never heard of Cosmetic Bargains and did not use Instagram.
He also denied being linked to bank accounts or mobile phone numbers used in the con and maintained the pair were victims of identity theft.
But when detectives provided more evidence – including proof that a web page for Cosmetic Bargains was created on their home computer – they eventually admitted fraud by false representation.
Investigating officer Matt Leach, from West Midlands Economic Crime Unit, said: “They used ten different bank accounts – one of which was linked to 23 frauds – and six Instagram accounts offering items for sale.
“Customers parted with sums ranging from £52 to £1,000.
“Many of these were birthday and Christmas presents so they are responsible for creating a lot of upset and worry among the people they deceived.”
(Source – Birmingham Mail)