A young rider who lost her life savings of £14,000 in a sophisticated lorry-selling scam has shared her story to raise awareness of the method.
Alanna Malt worked three part-time jobs while she was in her last year of university last year to save up for the horsebox, and has lost it all to the fraudsters, who set up a website purporting to be that of a reputable company.
She told H&H she saw the box advertised on a trusted online platform.
“It was in my price range so I started messaging the seller,” she said.
“He sounded completely normal; he said he’d relocated to Germany so the horsebox was with a haulage company.”
Alanna did her homework; she found the firm’s website, which stated that it delivered vehicles on behalf of sellers. She also found it listed on Companies House, so was reassured when the seller, who sent her plenty more pictures of the lorry, asked her to email the firm.
“I emailed the company, on the address the seller had given me,” she said. “I said I was a bit concerned as it was a lot of money but they said they had all these policies, that my payment would be ring-fenced and I’d have a five-day inspection period. They were really understanding, so I sent them a deposit.”
The deposit was £7,000, half the price of the box. Alanna paid up, and was told the lorry would be delivered on Saturday (14 October).
“They said the agents would call me, and they’d have all the paperwork and keys,” she said. “Then they asked me for the rest of the money. I’d been under the impression that I’d pay after the inspection period but they said it was so it would be fully covered by their insurance in case something happened in transport.
“I thought it was an expensive piece of kit so I sent the rest of the money. They said perfect.”
Saturday came but Alanna had no call – and no horsebox.
“I emailed and had no response but thought maybe I’d get one on Monday,” she said. “But when I looked on Monday, the website had gone.
“I think what’s happened is that the company is a real one but with no online presence so they’ve pretended to be them.”
Alanna said the email purported to be from a woman who is listed on Companies House as a director of the real company.
“But of course, it wasn’t her,” she said. “And they’ve got all my money. I was trying to stay positive but on Sunday night, my gut just dropped and I thought ‘oh my god, the money’s gone and I don’t know what to do’.”
Alanna reported the issue to Action Fraud, police and her bank. She said the former told her she has a case, and the latter is investigating, so there is a chance she may get her money back.
“I feel really naive,” she said. “I’m quite computer sensible and I’d researched; I’d looked the horsebox up and it had MoT till January so it’s a real vehicle, and I’d checked the company. I never thought I’d get caught out by something like that.
“I just want people to know about it. You always think you won’t be the one and it has happened to me. I worked so hard to earn this money and now I’ve got to start from square one again.”
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