THE Government has been urged to do more to combat online fraud after a Ribble Valley builder paid £5,150 for a mini-digger that was never delivered.

The 70-year-old ordered the machine in November after spotting it on eBay.

He was asked to pay the vendor company by bank transfer.

After becoming suspicious, he found the money had been taken from a NatWest account within 24 hours and there was no money left .

The builder contacted Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans, who has now written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd calling for action.

The Tory backbencher and the builder have criticised NatWest for having three separate bank accounts in the firm’s name and failing to act on previous warnings about potential fraudulent activity.

The bank closed all three of the company’s accounts.

The builder, who does not wish to be named, said: “I was looking for a JCB mini-digger and saw one on eBay advertised by LP UK Plant Sales Ltd of Coventry at a good but not suspiciously low price.

“I paid for it by bank transfer as they claimed their card machine was not working, but have never seen the digger or my money again.

“I am not sure whether I was dealing with the company or someone who had hijacked their identity.

“I looked into this and it seems it has happened before and I think NatWest have failed to carry out due diligence on these bank accounts and activity. I am pleased NatWest has acted but it is not before time.”

Mr Evans said: “There are completely unscrupulous individuals out there who are stealing money from people.

“I think more needs to be done to stop this.

"When there is fraudulent activity happening the bank should step in.

“Why did Natwest allow this company to have three bank accounts and why did it take so long to close them?

"It is outrageous.

“I have written to the Home Secretary to ask what action the Government is taking to clamp down on these practices and what steps can be taken to ensure banks have the ability and the incentive to prevent these criminals from using their services.”

A spokeswoman for NatWest said: “We closed all three accounts more than three months ago. They had been opened as personal not business accounts.

LP UK Plant Sales could not be contacted.

The case has been reported to Action Fraud at the City of London Police.

Mr Evans added: “It is important to only ever buy equipment such as this through a credit card where there is protection. It isn’t hard for someone to accept credit cards as a company – if they claim they can’t then this should be a red flag.

“There are procedures and checks that must be gone through to open a business bank account as any business owner will know.

"I’d like to know how these fraudsters are able to get away with this and to open multiple accounts without this being caught by the banks themselves.”