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Facebook grifter conned Perthshire, Fife and Angus customers with PlayStation and bogus work promises

Perth Sheriff Court heard a community of Edward Townsley’s victims grew online, as he continued to cheat strangers out of money to feed his drug habit.

Edward Townsley used Facebook to con customers.
Edward Townsley used Facebook to con customers. Image: Facebook/ Shutterstock.

A Facebook grifter who conned customers out of thousands of pounds for goods and services he never delivered has been jailed.

Crooked Edward Townsley promised roof repairs, gardening work, a summer house and games consoles to unsuspecting punters online.

But after they parted with their cash, he refused to return calls or tried to fob them off with increasingly spurious excuses.

Perth Sheriff Court heard a community of Townsley’s victims grew online, while he continued to cheat strangers out of money to feed his drug habit.

The 32-year-old, from Auchterarder, was sentenced to 16 months behind bars after pleading guilty to seven charges of fraud committed between March 30 2020 and April 18 2022.

Sheriff William Wood told the father-of-two: “The difficulty you have is that you are an inveterate fraudster and a thief.

“There’s no other way I can say that.”

Landscape gardener

The court heard Townsley’s first target was a woman in Glasgow’s Bothwell area.

”She searched online for a landscape gardener,” said fiscal depute Erika Watson.

“On March 30, she contact a company called Drivewise via Facebook.

Bogus workman Edward Townsley.
Facebook grifter Edward Townsley is now serving a 16-month sentence.

“Messages were exchanged and arrangements were made for someone to visit her property.”

Townsley – who introduced himself as “Eddy” – went to the address on April 4.

He quoted the woman £2,600 for the job but asked for half of the money as a deposit to buy materials.

She later transferred £1,300 to Townsley’s bank account.

Ms Watson said: “Over the next four weeks, further messages were exchanged.

“The delivery date was continually changed, as was the estimated start date.”

She was eventually told the job would begin on April 23 but the day came and went without any sign of work starting.

Facebook Messenger logo. A serial sex offender has been jailed for breaking conditions around mobile phone use.
Bogus workman Townsley contacted customers through Facebook messenger. Image: Shutterstock.

When she messaged Townsley again, and was told his wife was in hospital, having a baby.

“She felt something wasn’t right,” the fiscal depute said. “She checked the Facebook ad again and noticed the business name had changed to Drivemaster.

“She investigated further and discovered numerous reviews from people stating they had been scammed by the company.”

When she was not able to get a refund, she tried speaking to her bank and Action Fraud – which does not operate in Scotland – before calling police.

When officers arrived, she identified Townsley from a photo book of suspects.

Consoles and summer house

The court heard Townsley advertised games consoles on Facebook Marketplace.

One man paid him £400 for a PlayStation that never came in January 2021.

Another buyer handed over £300 for an X-Box, promising to pay another £100 on delivery.

It also never arrived, Ms Watson confirmed.

Townsley advertised a PlayStation for sale.

Townsley advertised a summer house for sale on Gumtree.

The ad stated: “Need gone as moving house.”

One punter transferred a £200 deposit for the £1,500 outbuilding.

When it failed to materialise, he tracked down Townsley’s personal Facebook page.

“He was told there was an issue with the delivery,” said the fiscal depute.

“But he was told it would be delivered the following day.”

The summer house never came, and Townsley stopped responding to his messages.

Fair City Paving

The court was next told of a couple in Cupar who moved into a new home in July 2021.

They discovered a large block of concrete buried in their back garden and went online to find a specialist to remove it.

The couple contacted Townsley via Fife Facebay group on Facebook.

He turned up at their house wearing a Fair City Paving T-shirt and took a £50 cash deposit for the £150 job, promising to return in two days.

When he failed to arrive, the couple got back in touch and were told he was unwell but had asked someone else to do the work.

Ms Watson said Townsley told them the machinery he needed was broken.

In October, after months of excuses, the pair contacted police.

Family bereavement

In November 2021, Townsley was contacted by a couple from Auchterarder who enquired about roof repairs at their Townhead home.

They paid him £250 and the work was actually carried out.

“As a result of this transaction, they approached the accused about doing some external work, as well as work inside, including a bathroom,” said Ms Watson.

Townsley quoted £10,200 and asked for a £5,000 cash deposit.

The couple handed over the money but Townsley never turned up for an appointment.

Bogus workman Edward Townsley.
Edward Townsley. Image: Facebook

Townsley used Covid as an excuse, first claiming he had contracted it.

The couple were later texted from unknown number and a man claiming to be Townsley’s dad said his wife had died from Covid.

He then asked for a further £800 for materials.

The couple spent weeks fruitlessly chasing a refund.

When Townsley stopped responding, they went to the police.

Roof repairs

In April 2022, Townsley visited a property in Guthrie Street, Friockheim, near Arbroath, to assess its roof.

He claimed to the homeowner he worked for a firm called Roof Master Ltd.

Ms Watson said the accused stayed for about 15 minutes and asked for a £950 cash deposit.

The money was handed over and Townsley said scaffolding would be put up and when no workers arrived, calls to Townsley went straight to voicemail.

Perth Sheriff Court.

She got a message via Facebook, confirming the scaffolding was on its way but it never arrived.

The homeowner was later told through the company’s Facebook account there had been a death in the family.

She found others on social media discussing similar experiences with Townsley and his companies.

Drug addiction

Defending solicitor John McLaughlin said: “The big problem here was an addiction to drugs – as well as a need for money for the debts he ran up to his suppliers.

“Mr Townsley accepts full responsibility.”

Mr McLaughlin said if Townsley was spared jail, he was likely to begin work as a labourer next week and could start making compensation payments.

“From 2020 and 2022, he was going through a significant drug problem.

“He should have shut up shop and dealt with his own demons.”

Sheriff Wood said each fraud charge represented a “significant loss” for the victims.

“There has been no indication you have changed, Mr Townsley,” the sheriff said.

“I know that’s what I’m being asked to accept but your record suggests the road to change for you will be significantly longer.

“Only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”

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