Hartlepool man spared jail over Facebook fraud

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A TEENAGER who allowed his bank account to be used in an internet scam in which victims lost thousands was spared jail.

Joshua Cockburn, who was 18 at the time, made no money out of the racket which allowed his bank account to be used as part of a scam to con Facebook users.

Investigators in the case also received flack from the crown court judge who said that perhaps there should have been a fuller probe to build a case against others who were involved.

Prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, David Crook said 11 payments totalling £2,765 went through Cockburn’s Hartlepool bank account after items including TVs and ipads were advertised for sale on Facebook.

Victims, who never received any goods, said they were surprised to be asked to send the payments to a male’s account because they thought from the internet offers that they were dealing with a woman.

Mr Crook said the money was paid into Cockburn’s account, but then it was withdrawn or transferred to other people including a woman relative.

He said the victims had been buying the items as Christmas and birthday gifts.

Cockburn, now 20, of Murray Street, Hartlepool, was given a 12-month community order and 120-hours unpaid work with a £60 court surcharge after he pleaded guilty to fraud between August 2012 and March last year.

Ian Mullarkey, mitigating, said that Cockburn was a hard worker and he had been described as polite but emotionally vulnerable.

Judge Howard Crowson told him: “I think that perhaps other people should have been investigated more.

“I have received some very good reports about you from people who trust you.”