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Ask Alice H Your Own Question

Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2847
Experience:  Partner in national law firm
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I was sold a laptop online which was described as working and

Customer Question

I was sold a laptop online which was described as working and in good condition. When it arrived it was faulty and did not work. This was confirmed by an independant engineer who describes the fault as having been done a long time ago. It was sold to me by a person who claimed to be 'Katie', but i have since ascertained that 'Katie' is indeed a 12 year old child and it could only have been her parents who sold me the item, using their daughters name to cover their tracks and avoid legal complaint. Can i pursue one or both of the parents as they are legally responsible for their daughter 'Katie' or they knowingly committed this offence or have knowledge of it? I want to take them to small claims court as surely this cannot be allowed to happen?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
How much did you pay for the laptop please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I paid £188 for the laptop but have paid more money in taking out a small claims request and incurred other costs because of this

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
My name is***** and I'm happy to help with your question today.
The possible "offence" you mention could be fraud. "Katie" may have committed the offence if she dishonestly sold the laptop intending to make a gain for herself.
The difficulty you face is proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a fraud was actually committed.
Firstly, you have to prove who the real "Katie" in order to prosecute her. Secondly, if Katie is not a real person, then you will have to identify the real culprit behind the name. Thirdly even of you could prove these things there is no guarantee the police will prosecute or that there will be a conviction.
If Katie is indeed a child the parents will not be automatically liable for her actions. In contract cases, which this is, you would have to obtain a personal guarantee from a parent. There have been cases in court where the judge has said that a parent cannot be held responsible automatically for the contract of a minor.
Its probably right to say that you've been "ripped off". The difficulty is being able to prove it to the standard required by law.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Well thank you for that reply and i've heard that there may be elements of what you say that is right. I find it incredible that parents can use the name of their child to buy and sell goods online because they know they can escape prosecution. How can the law not favour those who have been conned?Itr is clear that the parents have done so in this case as they had text dialogue with me indicating that whoever sent the messages to me was indeed 'Katie', so they deliberately tried to deceive me knew what they were doing. Are you suggesting therefore that there is no reason for me to pursue this legally, as in answer to your points;

1) I went and obtained a copy of a birth certificate proving that 'Katie' is indeed a 12 yr old goal at the address stated from which the goods were sent;

2) Katie is indeed a real person and it is clear that either or both of the parents have used her name fraudulently, particularly as I have evidence and proof that payment by PayPal went directly into the account of her father;

3)What exactly is a personal guarantee? It is clear beyond reasonable doubt based on the clear evidence and proof in writing that i have that the parents clearly knew and participate in deception. I have records of a text conversation over the period of three days from one of them and a phone number. Even if they discard the sim card it is clear eveidence. I have a PayPal record of the transaction showing payment to the father of Katie, and i have the sale record and advertisement as posted on EBay showing that the item for sale was clearly advetised as in ood condition, in sound working order and put up for sale by a 'Katie'. That is clear fraud and deception, surely a judge must look at the clear evidence and be of the opinion that everyone else is that this is fraud?

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
You seem pretty certain about the strength of your case.
In which case you can do two things:
1. Report the matter to the polcie to prosecute the parent(s) for fraud on the basis of the evidence you have gathered;
2. Sue the parents in the Small Claims Court.
The police and Court will decide, applying the relevant legal standard, whether the parent(s) have committed fraud or some other crime and/or are liable to compensate you for your loss.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Via the money claims online procedure, is it possible for me to name both parents in my claim or just the father, as he is the one that has received the money via his PayPal account and the mothe can claim she had no knowledge of it? Or as a precaution should i name they both as they are both legal parents/guardians of the child?

If this is unsuccessful then i'm sure i will pursue a fraud complaint with the police, but only if i am satisfied with the information that you have provided and it has been verified via the CAB

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
If you have evidence of collusion by both parents then you should name them both. Otherwise your claim will be against the father.
By all means you can report the matter to police but I stand by what I said previously about the standard and burden of proof in criminal law.
Not sure what you mean by CAB. If you mean Citizens Advice then make sure the opinion you obtain is from a qualified lawyer rather than a volunteer with some experience but no legal qualification.

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