A CONMAN scammed £1,000 out of an unsuspecting man who thought he was buying an allotment.
Hartlepool Borough Council is warning people not to fall foul of fraudsters who offer to sell them local authority-owned plots.
They say that all plots are the property of the council and they are only ever rented out and never sold.
The warning has been issued in the wake of a con involving a local man who paid £1,000 to buy a plot at the Chester Road allotments site without realising it was a scam and wasn’t for sale.
Council officials say the original tenant pocketed the money and then disappeared.
Helen Beaman, who manages the Hartlepool Borough Council’s Allotment Service, said: “The first we knew of this matter was when the buyer telephoned us demanding to know why a “Notice of Re-entry” had been placed on the gate to his plot.
“After carrying out enquiries, it became apparent that he had no claim on the allotment and was the victim of a scam.
“Our allotment tenancy rules strictly prohibit the sale or sub-letting of plots, so this man has not only been denied “ownership” of an allotment but he is also £1,000 worse off. The allotment has now been re-allocated to someone on our waiting list.
“We want to highlight this incident to prevent other people from also falling victim to similar cons.
“We would urge genuine allotment holders to help us protect vulnerable people by helping to spread the word that allotment plots are never offered for sale.”
The council says it has taken a number of steps to prevent people from being ripped off and stresses that it only ever deals with registered tenants in relation to correspondence, an allotment tenancy agreement or any tenancy decisions.
Anyone who is offered an allotment for sale or who has information that sales are occurring should contact the council on (01429) 523406 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Any information received will be treated in the strictest confidence.