A CHARITY has been conned out of £1,800 by an online fraudster.

Alan Baxter, leader of the 4th Dovercourt Sea Scouts, bought an outboard engine for the group’s rescue boat from a private seller on the website boatsandoutboards.co.uk He transferred £1,855 to the seller, but the engine never arrived. Mr Baxter contacted the website’s administrators, who told him he had been the victim of fraud.

He reported the matter to the police and was told the seller, claiming to be from the Isles of Scilly, had used a false address during the transaction.

Mr Baxter said: “Losing the money is devastating.

“I feel bad because the group has lost out. Everyone who helps out are volunteers and give up their time free of charge.”

About £1,500 had been donated to the group for the outboard motor by the Royal Navy through a grant that’s only available every 18 months.

The Sea Scouts have been told it is unlikely they will get the money back.

Mr Baxter is keen to warn people about the dangers of buying from private internet traders after his own experience.

He said: “We need to make people aware sometimes things are not always as they seem, even on what is a reputable website.

“The person knew it was meant for a charity, but they still went ahead with the con, so there was no guilt felt there.”

Mr Baxter has vowed the blow will not sink the Sea Scouts, which has about 100 members.

He said: “We still have the old outboard engine and we will continue to battle on and do more fundraising.

“I shall endeavour to find more grants and go from there.”

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau said it was unable to comment on individual cases.

The Gazette approached boatsandoutboards.co.uk for a comment, but no one got back to the paper.