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Don’t become a victims of shopping and auction fraud before Christmas, police are reminding shoppers. The official police reporting centre Action Fraud said that reports to it rose by 25pc when comparing the Christmas period in 2016 with the same in 2015. Last year’s crimes suggested that 65pc of crimes at Christmas were linked to online auctions sites, with the average loss for these reports coming in at £727. Trending items victims reported losing out to fraudsters on included; Yeezy trainers, Kylie Jenner make-up, air dryers, drones and Fitbit watches.
Mobile phones continue to be the most likely thing that people try to buy from fraudsters, then clothing and accessories second on the list and footwear. Watches have also over taken jewellery and are now more commonly offered by fraudsters. Although as the authorities say it is possible for anyone to fall victim to Christmas shopping fraudsters, last year over 13 per cent of reports were made by men aged 20 to 29.
This year’s police awareness campaign is using the #ThoughtThatCounts is asking people to go slow when they are doing their Christmas shopping so that they are able to not only think about the gifts they are purchasing, but who they are purchasing them from. A rush purchase could be paying into the hands of a fraudster for sub-standard or non-existent gifts.
City of London Police analyses all Action Fraud reports and tries to prevent more people falling victim to fraud by requesting the suspension of the websites, bank accounts and phone lines that fraudsters use to commit their crimes. Last year 658 websites, emails addresses and telephone numbers were disrupted during the Christmas period.
City of London Police Commander Dave Clark, the National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime said: “Christmas is a busy time of year when we are required to make several quick decisions, especially when it comes to present buying. Our fraud awareness campaign is highlighting that it is very much ‘the thought that counts’ especially when it comes to avoiding fraudsters.
“Fraudsters see the Christmas rush as an ideal opportunity to take advantage of people’s generosity without a single care about the consequences this may cause for the victim. With a sharp rise in fraud reporting at Christmas time it is more important than ever that people do everything they can to protect themselves from fraudsters, stopping them from enjoying the holiday season at the expense of others.”
Police make the point that if something seems too much of a bargain, or it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Never click on unsolicited emails or text messages; and never transfer money to someone you don’t know. For more advice visit the Action Fraud website.