A STRING of customers were caught out when a Facebook seller offered back yard hot tubs for as little as £120, a court heard.

An online trader named as Sarah Connor was offering to offloard the spas between May and June 2017, Burnley Crown Court heard.

But when at least 10 purchasers handed over money for the hot tubs, deliveries were never made and 'Connor' blocked disgruntled victims on Facebook.

Prosecutor Timothy Ashmole said that despite investigations, the Facebook scammer was never traced.

But police were able to track down three people whose bank accounts had been used to deposit the takings, the court was told.

James McDonagh, 37, Ashley Waldron, 26, and Claire Waldron, 29, were all arrested and protested their innocence.

And while Ashley Waldron, of India Street, confessed to a money laundering charge, McDonagh and Claire Waldron, both of Rosewood Avenue, Haslingden, denied the same offences but were convicted after a trial before a district judge.

Mr Ashmole said: "Many people seem to have taken advantage of having a hot tub in their back garden for up to £180."

One victim, a hairdresser called Hayley Stanmore, responded to the Facebook advert and deposited £160 in a Lloyds bank account, which was later linked to McDonagh. But the spas were never delivered and no replys were forthcoming from the 'Sarah Connor' account. Miss Stanmore was eventually 'blocked' by the trader's Messenger service.

Following his arrest McDonagh, who has 10 alias names, told police he was aware his bank account, which he shared with his partner Claire Waldron, was being used in this way.

But he refused to elaborate any further on the 'Sarah Connor' account and how the profile was established.

Meanwhile Claire Waldron told officers a friend had asked to use her bank account, as she did not have her own.

Mr Ashmole said she never asked where the money deposited was coming from. Ashley Waldron declined to comment at all in interview.

McDonagh was given 150 hours community service by Recorder Andrew Long. The judge also imposed 12-month community orders on Claire and Ashley Waldron, with 12-week curfews. Rehabilitation activity days were also imposed.