Cost of online shopping fraud revealed ahead of busy Christmas period

Figures showed 719 cases of online shopping or auction fraud were recorded against Suffolk based victims ince January...

Figures showed 719 cases of online shopping or auction fraud were recorded against Suffolk based victims ince January Picture: TIM GOODE/PA - Credit: PA

Suffolk victims of online shopping fraud lose an average £567 to scams, according to figures revealed ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Online security experts are advising people how to stay safe from internet fraud ahead of the busiest shopping period of the entire year.

The guidance coincides with the release of a study showing 64,070 cases of internet shopping and online auction fraud were recorded across the country between January and October – costing victims a total of £36.3 million.

Meanwhile, 719 cases were recorded against Suffolk based victims, who incurred a collective financial loss of £407,700.

Suffolk came 11 places off the bottom of a list ranking police force areas by the total number of cases recorded since the beginning of the year.

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During that period, May was the month with the highest number of cases (103), while February saw the fewest cases (42).

The Metropolitan Police area had the highest amount of internet shopping and online auction fraud cases referred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (10,926).

The study was commissioned by password management company Specops Software, which warned that consumers needed to be wary of opportunistic fraudsters exploiting their intentions to find bargains online.

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Internet shopping and online auctions fraud constitutes buyers not receiving their goods, receiving goods notably different from the original description, and failure by the seller to disclose relevant information, full terms of sale and more.

Where issues cannot be resolved, the buyer has no real prospect of returning the goods or being refunded.

The closure of non-essential shops for much of this year significantly contributed to the increase in online shopping – and the trend is set to surge in coming days as people hunt for Christmas presents.

Specops Software’s tips on staying safe online in the lead up to Christmas include being cautious with login credentials, learning to self-audit websites, avoiding using bank transfers and enabling multi-factor authentication, where individuals must provide at least two pieces of evidence to prove their identity.

Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Wallace, of Suffolk police said the force closely monitored reporting in conjunction with Action Fraud, while focusing locally on prevention and protection.

“The complexity, change and reliance of technology and sophistication of tactics by criminals has led to rise in all fraud nationally,” she added.

“Suffolk has a specialist cyber team, in addition to specialist fraud trained officers, who look to prosecute those found committing such offences, as well as alerting the public about fraud prevention wherever possible.

“We understand that fraud has a significant impact both on individuals and businesses, and we work hard to understand this and support victims during these long investigations.”

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