A conman has been prosecuted for a ‘bizarre’ online fraud that involved a banana, a watch and policeman.
Aldo Zanetti, 42, of Bramhall , Stockport, advertised a Breitling watch for sale on website Gum Tree and agreed a price with his victim Gordon Davis.
Then instead of sending the time piece, Zanetti, of Hall Road, posted a package containing a banana.
But the recipient – who lives in Banstead, Surrey – was a policeman and, suspecting his package was light, opened it in front of the postman delivering it.
The Royal Mail has described the episode as one of the strangest staff have come across.
Zanetti pleaded guilty to fraud by making a false representation at Stockport Magistrates Court on Thursday.
He was sentenced to 120 hours unpaid work with £2,323 costs.
Upon discovering the piece of fruit Mr Davis complained to Zanetti, who claimed he had sent a watch and even made a compensation claim to Royal Mail, alleging it had been lost or stolen in the post.
The claim was for £2,950 – what he said the watch was worth – even though he had sold it for £1,250.
Royal Mail , which eventually brought the prosecution, carried out an investigation.
It was found that the package sent could not have contained the watch because of the amount it weighed when it was sent at the Post Office.
But Zanetti still maintained his claims and complained to the Postal Review Board.
He was eventually arrested by police and confessed to sending the banana and then making a fraudulent claim.
Speaking after the case, a spokesman for Royal Mail this was one of the most bizarre methods used by a fraudster to cover his tracks.
He added: “We will always seek to prosecute the tiny minority of people who attempt to use the postal network to commit fraudulent acts.”
Zanetti must complete the unpaid work within 12 months and has to also pay an £85 victim surcharge.