Social media scams are on the rise: buyers are being warned of the proliferation of fake websites claiming to sell everything from caravans to puppies
- Banks have reported an increase in scams targeting younger people this year
- Often this means that consumers pay online for items that don’t exist
- The fraud is often facilitated as victims pay via bank transfer, and experts warned consumers to do their best to verify items before handing over cash
Fraud experts have warned shoppers to investigate and avoid paying online merchants via wire transfer whenever possible, following an increase in purchase scams targeting younger people in recent months.
The UK banks have found hundreds of pounds lost at a time in cases where people have been ripped off into buying things ranging from foreign currency to caravans to puppies and designer trainers.
They say fraudsters are increasingly targeting younger people on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, with figures from UK fraud reporting service Action Fraud losing £ 356.6 million in fraud in July.
Paul Davis, director of retail fraud at Lloyds, Britain’s largest bank, said: “ It’s easy for fraudsters to use fake images, sites and profiles to trick people into giving up their hard-earned money, and if a deal too good seems to be true, chances are it probably is. ‘
Banks have reported a surge in scams involving people trying to buy foreign currency, caravans, puppies and designer trainers
The massive amount lost to all fraud in July was 286 percent higher than in March, when the victims lost £ 92.3 million over the month, indicating that the coronavirus has led to an increase in the number of heartless fraudsters exploiting the pandemic.
In addition to an increase in fraud during this year, banks reported that the types of scams they saw had changed as the lockdown eased.
TSB said scams had shifted to ‘more ambitious purchases such as holiday homes, caravans and camping equipment’, while an emerging scam targeting 16-21 year olds was too good to be true with foreign currency, with the average victim losing £ 250.
Lloyds also reported an increase in the number of people being scammed when buying caravans, with all purchase scams increasing by a third between April and June compared to the previous three months. They said the average victim was 33.
Santander found that between January and August 2020 there was an increase in the number of caravan purchase scams between January and August 2020 compared to the same period a year ago, but that there was an even greater rise in scams involving people trying to buy puppies and game consoles .
These increased by 1,369 percent and 384 percent, respectively. A spike in purchase scams related to these items, as well as hot tubs, was also reported by NatWest in June.
About 669 people lost £ 282,686 in March and April after paying a down payment for pets they saw advertised online.
The bank fraud chiefs advised consumers to take extra care when shopping on social media platforms, to take steps to verify that items were legitimate before handing over money, ideally by viewing them in person, and not buying directly via bank transfer where possible. Pay.
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Purchases made with a credit or debit card or via PayPal mean that buyers are protected and consumers are able to request a chargeback if something goes wrong.
Last month, Money Mail, sister title to This is Money, revealed how victims lost thousands of pounds after being caught in a sophisticated used car scam hit over Facebook.
Paul Davis adds, “If a merchant insists on receiving a bank transfer payment, or bypassing official payment mechanisms, this should be a big red flag.
‘The safest way to pay for products and services online is with a card.’
Bank fraud chiefs and police said consumers should try to pay with a card or PayPal when shopping online and avoid paying by bank transfer if they hadn’t seen an item first
An Action Fraud spokesperson said: “Online shoppers have become targets for criminals and they will continue to exploit online shoppers at every opportunity.
To protect yourself while shopping online, use a secure payment method that offers buyer protection, such as PayPal or a credit card if you have one.
We recommend that you always do your research before handing over your money, and if you have no choice but to pay via bank transfer, you should carefully review the reviews of the person or website you are buying from.
Make sure the person or website you’re paying is legitimate and that the payment is for real goods or services.
Always pay attention to the warnings your bank gives you when you are going to make a payment or create a new beneficiary.
“These alerts can help protect you and determine whether you are sending your money to someone legitimate or not.”