SCAMMERS conned their victims out of thousands of pounds by selling them cars that did not exist.

Gary Lythgoe, from Orford, was hauled before a judge this week after he admitted laundering ill-gotten money for the fraudsters in relation to the swindle.

Liverpool Crown Court heard on Monday, August 10, that the con artists placed an advert for a Toyota Land Cruiser on Gumtree in September 2018.

One victim paid £2,900 into the defendant’s bank account in order to purchase the 4x4.

After speaking with a ‘woman called Gill’ over the phone in relation to the vehicle, she travelled to Cardiff to pick it up.

But the address she had been given was that of an innocent pensioner who had no knowledge of the car.

A second victim paid £900 into Lythgoe’s account as a deposit for the vehicle, but was unable to contact the seller afterwards and realised she had been scammed.

He then changed some of the money into foreign currency at Tui, Hays Travel and Travelex branches and made a withdrawal of a further £2,000.

The court was told that the 32-year-old, of Poplars Avenue, was approached by a friend for use of his bank account before receiving ‘threatening’ messages forcing him to do so.

But the fraudsters themselves have not been caught by police to date.

In a statement read to the court, one of the victims described how she ‘felt sick to the pit of her stomach’ when she realised she had been conned and now feels ‘utter hatred’ towards them.

Lythgoe admitted money laundering and possession of criminal property, although two counts of fraud were dismissed.

The plasterer was handed an 18-month community order, including 70 hours of unpaid work and a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

He was also told to pay £3,900 in compensation plus a victim surcharge.

Sentencing, judge Stuart Driver said: “This had a substantial impact on the victims, who had the upsetting experience of being deprived of their savings.

“What you did deserves a prison sentence, but there are mitigating factors.

“You are of previous good character apart from some minor cautions, you did what you did under some pressure from others and you are a person of limited scope – not being able to read or write.

“The impact of all that takes it back on the other side of the custody threshold.”