Two cousins have been jailed for robbing people who responded to fake car adverts they put on Gumtree. Richard McCrorie and Alexander Gould advertised vehicles on the website and arranged to meet interested parties in Surrey. They insisted that payments for the cars would be cash only. When the unsuspecting customers arrived, the pair would threaten and attack them with guns and metal bars, forcing them to hand over the money. They were caught when Surrey Police’s Serious Crime Investigation Team noticed a pattern in the robberies and set up a sting operation. Officers responded to an advert for a BMW, saying they were a couple interested in buying the car. The cousins then attacked a white van they believed to be the couple’s with a knife and a gun. The van was full of police officers, who used Tasers to restrain and arrest the pair. After pleading guilty to robbery, attempted robbery and possession of an imitation firearm, McCrorie was handed a seven-year sentence and Gould was jailed for six years. Detective Inspector Pete Fulton said: “McCrorie and Gould were part of a well planned and elaborate conspiracy to lure people…to quiet residential areas so they could rob them. “They were prepared to use extreme levels of violence to achieve their aims and their crimes have had a terrifying and lasting effect on their victims.” Gumtree.com has welcomed the outcome and urged buyers to exercise caution when arranging to meet sellers. A spokesman said: “This is a shocking case. The safety and security of our users is very important to us.” Managers said a range of “advanced technology” was used to identify suspicious advertisements and insisted they were “100% focused” on ensuring the process was “as safe as possible”.
This article was published on Sky News on the 25th of September 2009.