Online shopping scams cost consumers £15.4million last Christmas as more than 28,000 people reported being conned — up 61 per cent on the year before.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales last year also saw victims lose an average £550 on goods that didn’t exist, with criminals pocketing £2.5million.
Action Fraud, the national cyber crime centre, has warned people to think before parting with money and to be wary of clones of popular shopping websites.
They are created to look identical to the real sites but prices are much cheaper to entice victims who will never receive the item.
Director Pauline Smith said: ‘Always shop with official retailers. And if you think you’ve found a bargain that’s too good to be true, it probably is.’
Shoppers reported buying mobile phones, electronics, clothing and footwear on websites such as Facebook, eBay and Gumtree, only for the items to never arrive.
Fifty-four per cent of electronics cons were to do with popular game consoles such as PlayStation 5 and Xbox. Almost a third of victims were aged 20 to 29.
Action Fraud has launched a Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, advising people to think before buying. And it asks people to report cons at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Metro.co.uk's Black Friday shopping sense check
We love to bring you the best available bargains for Black Friday, but don't want you to go into debt or suffer financial hardship as a result.
When shopping the sales, ask yourself these questions to ensure you're buying smart:
- Do I need this? If your cooker has broken and needs replaced, this would be an essential purpose, while a new smoothie maker or air fryer is a desire not a need.
- Can I afford this? If you need to put something on credit - or put off essential spending to purchase it - you can't afford it. If it's a 'want' purchase, that means you should avoid. If it's a 'need' purchase, look for the most affordable option.
- Am I buying for the sake of it? Whether it's a gift or something for yourself, consider if you're buying just to take advantage of discounts. For the environment and your bank balance, try to buy with intention. This could mean fewer, better quality garments you actually love (instead of throwaway trend-led fashion), or only buying gifts you know will be treasured, rather than disposable trinkets.