A FINSTALL family have been conned out of £13,000 by a motorhome scam – and are sharing their tale as a warning to others.

Jason and his disabled wife Jenny Horton had saved up for years to purchase a motorhome so they could go on family holidays with their two autistic sons, aged 19 and 14.

But they were left heartbroken after realising they had been the victims of a sophisticated scam, despite taking every precaution possible with their online purchase.

The con artists cloned the website of a haulage company based in Kettering, to fool the couple into believing that firm would be responsible for the vehicle’s delivery.

And Jenny – who struggles to walk due to a neurological disorder, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia that have followed on from a stroke in 2015 – says the episode has devastated the family.

Jenny, 43, said: “After some tough years, we finally thought we could enjoy time with the kids and see some sights, maybe even Europe – but some evil ******* has stole it all and our money.

“It’s our 25th anniversary next year and we were hoping to go travelling. Now we won’t be going anywhere if this money doesn’t turn up.”

Husband Jason, 47, a factory manager for a lighting firm, has plenty of experience in the business world and said the scammers had been deviously smart.

He said: “I did every check I was advised to do, checked everything you could possibly think of, because it’s a lot of money to spend for something you can’t actually see.”

“We did extensive checks on the vehicle, we even downloaded the MOTs,” said Jenny. “We were quite savvy, we got all the business numbers, everything.

"This was pretty clever. They had all the addresses, they had the details of the haulage firm to set up the site, they knew the storage place in Cornwall where people keep motorhomes and caravans, they had extra pictures of the motorhome.”

“We hope this can serve as a warning to other people,” added Jason. “If this can happen to us, when I know the sort of things to check for, then it can happen to anyone.”

The couple found the motorhome in a trade magazine and contacted the seller, who sent extra photos and said the vehicle was in storage in Cornwall.

They added that a haulage company had been paid to deliver the vehicle to the buyer – so the couple checked out the firm through Companies House and its website which appeared legitimate.

However, the website was not the firm’s – it had been set up by the con artist(s). And they had struck before with the same company.

When the couple paid the £13,000 and the motorhome had failed to turn up several days later, they called their bank and police to report the matter – and went to visit the haulage firm.

Jenny added: “We met a kind but ultimately confused man who confirmed our worst fears and that it had been done one month earlier with some other unfortunate people and that website had been closed by police.

“The vehicle was real and so was the haulage company, but they do not deliver vehicles. The website that had been set up was fake but used all the company’s information from the public domain.

“And the storage site was real but after finally contacting them, they did not have the vehicle.”

The couple are left to hope the police will catch the culprits and that they will be able to recover some of the money through their bank – but, for now, their hopes of a dream holiday are shattered.

Jason added: “If we go on a normal holiday, after a couple of days the kids can’t handle it and they want to be back home. So we thought this was the ideal scenario – a holiday home on wheels.”

Action Fraud – the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud – confirmed it was investigating the Hortons’ case.

A spokesman said: “I can confirm that Action Fraud received this report in July 2019 and it will be in the process of getting assessed by our National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).”