Police have warned Andover residents to be aware of fraud when selling online after 21 incidents of buyers walking off without paying.

Items worth thousands of pounds have been among those where sellers have been convinced a bank transfer is on its way, and allowed those collecting to walk off with the goods. However, the money then doesn’t arrive, leaving sellers out of pocket.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said: “We are urging those selling high value electrical items online, particularly on Facebook Marketplace, to be vigilant following a number of reports where people pretending to be ‘buyers’ have walked away with the goods after convincing the seller they have paid via bank transfer.

Those pretending to be ‘buyers’ have answered a seller’s advert quickly and when they have turned up to collect the items, they have then convinced the buyer they have transferred the money by showing them the transfer on a banking app.

When the sellers have said they can’t see the money in their account, the ‘buyers’ have convinced them it will appear soon and have left with the goods.

“We know online buying and selling sites are really popular and are a great way to trade second hand items, however we want to remind people to please be vigilant when selling items in this way.”

There have been 21 incidents of this since August 14 across the county, with items including laptops, mobile phones, tablets, games consoles, a drone and a watch among the items stolen and ranging in price from £370 to £3400.

On some occasions, the ‘buyers’ have taken a photo of the seller on their doorstep and asked them to produce ID.

Officers advise a number of steps to sellers online to stop their items being stolen. Firstly, they advise that goods should never be handed over until the seller is satisfied that the payment has been received.

Secondly, they advise meeting buyers in a public place, or have someone else with the seller at home. ID should also not have to be shown to a buyer.

Hampshire Constabulary adds that anyone with concerns that a potential buyer is acting suspiciously should make note of their description and vehicle they travelled in, and report it online at https://www.hampshire.police.uk/ro/report/fo/v1/fraud/