THE victims of a fraudster who made £13,000 out of conning hundreds of collectors have described how she duped them into believing she was selling valuable antique coins.
Sarah Fenton’s scam claimed around 200 victims across the world as she passed off fakes as rare antiques to collectors.
But the 37-year-old found herself in the dock after a “complex investigation” by Blackpool Council’s Trading Standards team saw her brought to justice for her “cold and calculated con”.
Fenton, of Catforth Avenue, Marton, made around £13,000 flogging the worthless coins through specialist websites, posting them out to collectors from as far away as Australia and the USA.
She admitted the coins were fake, pleading guilty to illegal trading in counterfeit coins and to possessing money gained through the sale of the coins at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.
One victim, from the North West, who forked out £400 for his coins, today said: “The seller seemed very genuine and polite – until they had taken my money and contact from them ceased completely.
“It’s a shame so many people were taken in but justice is being served.”
A victim from Belgium added: “It’s due to the fact Sarah Fenton let me pay many hundreds of pounds that I feel I’ve been defrauded by her.”
It was a Belgian coin dealer who tipped Lancashire Police off about Fenton’s activities.
Trading Standards then raided her home and discovered a coin bag labelled “replica coins”.
Coin expert Colin Derouffignan said: “Some of them were good forgeries and some of them were not so good.”
Another expert claimed there was “more chance of winning the lottery” than possessing the collection of coins Fenton claimed she was selling from her semi-detached home.
Coun Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for housing and public protection, said: “This was a professional, cold and calculated con carried out against victims from all over the globe.
“Officers from Blackpool Council carried out a complex investigation.
“Huge credit is due to the team and the victims that came forward to offer their evidence which will, we hope, help prevent other collectors from falling foul of these types of tricks in the future.”
The search of Fenton’s home also recovered notebooks detailing her transactions, with around £13,000 made through the sale of coins on eBay and PayPal.
Around £5,000 of that was given back in refunds, but Trading Standards said it is impossible to calculate an exact total made because Fenton contacted some of her buyers directly and officers have not been able to contact them all.
The real versions of some of the coins sold by Fenton are worth around £25,000.
Blackpool Magistrates’ Court heard Fenton had started the business in 2010, after finding herself unemployed, with coins she had bought at a collectors fair which she did not realise were fakes.
Fenton also pleaded guilty to a false trademark offence involving a counterfeit Rolex watch box.
She will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on February 21. A Proceeds of Crime hearing will also take place.
Charges against a 38-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman have been dropped.