Dyfed-Powys Police have received an increase in reports that people have been caught out by criminals convincing them into making payments for online purchases in advance – and never seeing the items or their money again.
A number of reports have related to the purchase of puppies, kittens, caravans, campervans, hot tubs- the list is endless!
With more people staying at home, more and more are shopping online. Shopping online can be great, but it also has its pitfalls which can be easy to forget, especially when buying items from sellers on online marketplaces.
To help you avoid becoming a victim of this type of fraud, remember to STOP – CHALLENGE – PROTECT.
- Ask for physical proof. Consider physically seeing the item before purchasing. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller lots of questions before buying. Seeing an item physically isn’t possible at the moment, so think of ways of doing this differently such as video chat with the seller.
- Understand what the marketplace company where the item is being sold (for example eBay or Gumtree) can do if something goes wrong
- Look for payment methods with guarantees – use online payment options such as PayPal, which help to protect you. Avoid using money transfer services or bank transfer.
- Take a look at the seller’s reviews and ratings where available. Consider using marketplaces where you can read reviews but remember, reviews can also be fake.
- If you’re being pressured into a decision or to make an immediate payment – this should ring alarm bells.
- Don’t be fooled into using a ‘holding’ account for the payment. Criminals are clever and can make a website look genuine.
- Criminals are good at making their adverts look flashy, trustworthy and genuine. Don’t be fooled by a high quality picture and detailed description – do your research.
- Be wary of over-nice sellers who want to go the extra mile to make you trust them. We are not saying that there aren’t nice people out there who go over and above expectations, but scammers might offer to deliver the item personally upon receipt of the funds (and as you’ve guessed, the item never turns up & the seller is no longer contactable).
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The Economic Crime Team