AN INTERNET scam caught out a Norley man who posted a £700 watch to someone he thought had bought it from him.

The sophisticated scam targets users of the online cash transfers company PayPal by tricking them into thinking they have received payment for items when they haven’t, allowing criminals to gain access to the victim’s account as well as receiving the seller’s goods for free.

The 42-year-old Norley man, who did not want to be named, was selling the designer watch on the web-based classifieds site when he received an email purporting to be from PayPal saying the buyer in London had paid the money into his account.

Diligently the man posted the package special delivery at Frodsham Post Office, Main Street, at 10am on Monday, March 1, and returned home to update the email with the Royal Mail tracking number.

Following problems accessing the email and his account he contacted PayPal who informed him he had been stung in a scam.

Panicking he returned to the post office and begged them to not send on the watch to the address but was told it is illegal for staff to tamper with mail once they had taken it.

“They were afraid to use common sense,” he said. It was quite incredible, of course I did it and felt stupid, you live and learn but they insisted on sending it anyway even though I told them it was being stolen.

“The post office rang up Royal Mail who said they couldn’t hand it back to me and it had to be sent to the sorting office and get the police involved but by then it was too late.”

The man, who lives with his partner and two children, was selling the watch to raise money to pay bills after losing his job.

“Between the Post Office and the Royal Mail they don’t have a system in place for people saying ‘stop, I want to get off’.

“They are much more concerned with protecting themselves than organising a system to prevent a crime from happening.

“The police just wanted me to make a report but couldn’t act on it.

“I was quite upset in the post office and very frustrated because I could see how it was going to unfold.

“It was 1ft away from me on the other side of a piece glass and I could not have it.

“I wouldn’t say the Post Office were unsympathetic but they weren’t willing to err on the side of caution.”

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “We have an obligation under the Postal Services Act 2000 to deliver, where possible, all correctly addressed mail which has sufficient postage paid.”