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Black Friday warning: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is

Posted on: 23 November 2023

Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service is warning consumers to be wary of scams when shopping online this Black Friday. 

New research shows more than one in four (27 per cent) have been tricked by purchase scams.

A purchase scam is where a person makes a payment for goods or services online that never turn up.

Criminals often advertise technology products like phones or computers at low prices to attract buyers, persuading them to make bank transfers, then disappearing once the payment is made.

They generally do this either through fake websites or fake ads on social media as well as auction sites.

A recent report from UK Finance found that purchase scams are the most common kind of authorised fraud, accounting for two-thirds of all cases. The volume of purchase scam cases has grown by 43 per cent from 53,907 in the first half of 2022 to 76,946 in the first half of 2023. The amount stolen from victims in this period also rose by 31 per cent to £40.9 million.

People can protect themselves by checking sellers carefully when buying online.

Janet Quinn, Lead Scams Officer for Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service, said: “With the cost of living crisis and particularly before Christmas people are on the lookout for a bargain. Fraudsters are aware of this and waiting to exploit you.  Always do your research before you make a purchase.”

You can:

If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.