Hitting on a way of making extra money for Christmas a jobless man advertised items for sale on the social networking service Facebook.

But as magistrates were told Robert Anthony Smith did not possess the items he advertised and fraudulently obtained money on 13 occasions.

Smith aged 22, of 38 Bro Lletti, Llanarth, who was represented by Alison Mathias, pleaded guilty on 13 counts of fraud by false representation contrary to the Fraud Act. He was said to have received £786 from trusting customers in various parts of Wales.

Crown prosecutor Gerald Neave said Smith set up a page ‘Laura James Sales’ and customers paid for items by bank transfer over a period of three or four days in September last year.

On September 26 the defendant removed the page leaving customers unable to contact him.

When matters were reported police executed a warrant at Smith’s home when he admitted his guilt.

Telling the court that Smith had gambling and alcohol addictions Ms Mathias said “once he got involved he couldn’t stop.”

Referring to the offences as “obnoxious” presiding magistrate Ian Rolph said customers were duped by false promises and representations.

After considering a report from the Probation Service the magistrates made a Community Order for six months with a supervision requirement attached.

Smith was also ordered to pay compensation to his victims, £85 costs and £60 victim surcharge.