Ahead of this week’s ‘Black Friday’, Leicestershire Police are warning people to take extra care when shopping online.
Black Friday this year falls on November 25, and people are being reminded to ask themselves if the offer is too good to be true, in order to avoid being ripped off in the run up to the festive season.
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” says Nicole McIntyre from the force’s Economic Crime Unit (ECU).
“Before making a purchase, always stop and think – is it from an official retailer and is it clear how you get a refund and return the item should it not be what you were looking for. There are many fake sites operating and willing to take advantage of people and their hard-earned cash at this time of year. Please take a moment before you buy to follow this advice.”
Last year, nearly £800,000 was lost to criminals nationally during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale events.
Fake websites are often created to look identical to the real website and will advertise items at a much cheaper price than the normal retail price to entice victims.
The victim pays their money but never receives the item in question.
That’s what happened to one victim, 66, from North Leicestershire who paid out £500 for a Reebok Jet 200 Treadmill from a site offering a large discount.
However, once the money had left her account, she found the website was no longer available and she never received the item.
To spot fraud Leicestershire Police is reminding people to ask themselves the following questions:
Is the offer too good to be true?
Have you been asked to pay by bank transfer instead of using the online platform’s secure payment option?
Has the website only just launched – days or weeks ago?
Has a sense of urgency been placed on ordering the product so that you don’t miss the price deal?
Rebecca Spilane is the force’s Fraud Vulnerability Officer.
She added: “I would always advise that if you are going to make a purchase and you have made the relevant checks, it’s better to be safe than sorry and pay using your credit card or Paypal goods and services because these offer a level of insurance.”
Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. To report call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.