Action Fraud have launched a new campaign to remind the public to be extra vigilant over the Christmas period when shopping for gifts online. Fraudsters looking to take advantage of shoppers, are luring them in with promises of great deals and big savings.

Over the Christmas period last year, fraudsters conned 15,024 shoppers out of more than £11 million and fraudsters are using social media and online auction sites to target people. Action Fraud say that mobile phones were the most common item that people tried to buy from fraudsters. Victims reported being hooked in with bargain deals on popular smart phone models. Apple iPhone accounted for 74% of all fraudulent smart phones purchased. Electrical goods, games consoles, household items, computers, clothing and accessories also featured in many of the reports. The most popular items were: UGG Boots, Apple products and Fingerling Toys, in which victims reported losing money to fraudsters on.

Detective Chief Superintendent Pete O’Doherty of the City of London Police, said:

“Unfortunately, at what is an expensive time of year for many, the internet has provided fraudsters with a platform to lure people in with the promise of cheap deals. Our report shows that fraudsters will stop at nothing for financial gain during the festive period, which is why we are working hard together with our partners to highlight the threat and to prevent people from falling victim. To stop fraudsters in their tracks, be cautious of where and from whom you’re buying, especially if it is technology at a reduced price. Follow our simple advice so that your presents can be enjoyed by friends and family and not lost to fraudsters, and if you think you have been a victim of online shopping fraud, report it to us.”

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online commented:

“Christmas can be a really busy and often stressful time, so it can be easy to rush into making a quick purchase online to secure a must have gift or bargain without taking the time to check that everything is as it seems. But, taking a couple of minutes to familiarise yourself with a few simple online safety tips can be the difference between getting all your shopping done in time and becoming a victim of online fraud. Really simple steps such a paying via a credit card over a bank transfer or only using reputable shopping sites can make a big difference towards protecting yourself online this Christmas.”

This year the Action Fraud campaign aims to highlight to shoppers the warning signs to look out for. ‘Action Fraud will provide useful fraud and cyber crime prevention tips throughout December to stop people being conned out of the Christmas they deserve.’

Action Fraud have issued the following advice to help avoid falling victim to the scammers:

  • If something seems too much of a bargain, it’s probably poor quality, fake or doesn’t exist.
  • Don’t pay for goods or services by bank transfer unless you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you become a victim of fraud.
  • Make sure you’ve installed the latest software & app updates. Criminals use weaknesses in software to attack your devices and steal information, such as your payment details.
  • Use a strong, separate password and 2FA to protect your email account. Criminals can use your email to access other online accounts, such as those you use for online shopping.
  • Don’t click on a link in an unexpected email or text. The volume of online shopping related phishing emails increases during the holiday period. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Every Report Matters – if you have been a victim of fraud, report it to us online or by calling 0300 123 2040.