Police in Wales are warning horse sellers to be on their guard after a man from Swansea was given a false banker’s draft.

Pensioner Terry McDonnell put his Appaloosa mares Ellie May and Ashley and two four-month-old foals up for sale after he suffered a period of ill-health.

But the buyers — who claimed to be from Brierley Hill in the West Midlands — paid with a false banker’s draft, leaving Mr McDonnell £5,500 out of pocket.

Banker’s drafts are cheques against a bank’s account rather than a customer’s. Payment is guaranteed provided the draft is genuine and has not been lost or stolen.

The men — one in his late 50s and another in his 20s — handed over the draft and £500 cash and loaded the horses.

But when Mr McDonnell took the draft to the bank he found it was a forgery.
“I could have fainted,” he said.

He has asked horse owners to watch out for the ponies, which were taken at about 9am on 23 August.

Ashley is 12 years old and is blanket spotted. Her filly is distinctively coloured, with red spots and two blue eyes.

Ellie May (pictured above with her foal), the daughter of Ashley, is a leopard-spotted three-year-old part-bred Welsh. Her colt has a black mane and heart-shaped markings on both hindquarters.

A Swansea police spokesman said: “There has been a possible sighting of the older suspect in the Avon and Somerset area, so we are appealing to the wider public to contact us if they have seen
this man.”

The British Bankers’ Association advises sellers never to release goods until a banker’s draft has cleared and the British Horse Society (BHS) suggests that in cases where there is any concern about payment sellers should always ask for cash.

“Also do not be afraid to ask for references when buying or selling a horse,” said Lee Hackett of the BHS.

If you have any information call Swansea police (tel: 01656 655555).

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (6 September, ’07)