Police Issue Online Shopping and Auction Fraud Warning
Using the internet to buy goods or services is convenient and also gives you the widest choice. There are, however, risks associated with online shopping and you need to take care with what you are buying, from whom, and how you pay for your purchases.
Detective Chief Inspector Dougie Grant said: “As we move closer to Christmas, we are asking consumers to be extra vigilant on these key Christmas shopping days as online fraudsters are watching and waiting to capitalise on the biggest shopping frenzies of the year. This year, so-called, ‘Black Friday’ fell on Friday 25th November and ‘Cyber-Monday’ falls on Monday 28th November, but any day is a day to be careful online
“Action Fraud figures indicate that reports of fraud in Northern Ireland have been increasing with 2,230 reports in 2015/16 compared to 1,896 in 2014/152.
“Last year, the most common item being bought and sold by victims and fraudsters were mobile phones. People reported trying to get good deals on some of the most popular models of smart phones but what they thought was going to be a bargain never actually arrived, leaving them without presents to give on Christmas Day. Others reported being defrauded while trying to buy footwear, clothing, watches, gaming consoles, computers, furniture and home electrical products.
“This Christmas we want everyone to think about their online activity, especially when they are about to buy something over the internet. When it comes to online shopping, if something looks like it is a great bargain it’s probably poor quality, fake or doesn’t even exist. Fraudsters and online criminals are relentless and will stop at nothing, giving absolutely no thought as to whether you and your family are left without presents at Christmas time.
“We are hoping people and businesses will be extra cautious when grabbing those deals online – simple steps like double checking to see if the website and product is legitimate before making a payment, and also looking for any customer reviews which often act as a good touch point for safe online shopping. If you feel like something is suspicious, it probably is, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Further advice about how to stay safe online this Christmas is available at https://www.getsafeonline.org. To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use the online fraud reporting tool.