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Thames Valley Police warns of increase in online shopping fraud on social media

Thames Valley Police is seeing a high number of fraudulent offences involving the selling of items online and through social media.

In the past 13 months, data provided by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau shows that there have been 2,925 victims within the Thames Valley who have been targeted in this particular type of fraud. This is 21% of all different types of fraud which has resulted in losses of £2.3million.

How does it happen?

There are two different scenarios taking place:

  • Victims are contacted by the suspects who show a real interest in the goods, attending the address to look at the item with a view of purchasing it. The suspect will obtain the victim’s bank details and show the victim their mobile phone which details the payment has been made via the banking app and then walk away with the goods. This is a fake banking app and the profile used and contact details are also fake.

Please be mindful in these scenarios that you may be providing fraudsters with a lot of personal information, name, address, bank account. Be careful with how you protect your information.

  • The other type of offending is online shopping where the suspect agrees to purchase the item but will not pay for the goods until proof of purchase has been provided to them. The victim will arrange for the parcel to be sent in the post and will provide the tracking number to the suspect. The suspect is then able to track or redirect the parcel. This results in the payment not being received and the parcel has gone. The addresses where the parcels are being sent to are either used for a day, or the parcel is redirected to another address resulting in the loss of the item which is at a cost to the victim.

Prevention advice

While it is difficult to spot potential fraudsters, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself and provide the police with evidence when reporting.

  1. Make sure you receive payment before sending the goods

  2. Carry out your research before parting with your items or money; how long have they been online? Are there any reviews or sellers feedback? Do they have many associates or linked groups?

  3. Always check your account online or ask your bank to make sure the funds have been received

  4. Take pictures of items before posting them

  5. Keep any video footage which can be shared with law enforcement

  6. Make a report to Action Fraud online Action Fraud or via telephone 0300 123 2040

Detective Inspector Duncan Wynn of the Thames Valley Police Central Fraud Unit said: “These are common scams which are occurring across the Thames Valley and the rest of the UK and we ask that the public become aware of these tactics to prevent them from being targeted in this way and being at a financial loss.

“We are already seeing an increase in the number of calls we are receiving. As we start to look towards Christmas and shopping for gifts, we anticipate there will be a further increase in online shopping, which leaves shoppers more at risk of fake websites and profiles. We ask that people are always cautious and if in doubt, avoid going ahead with a sale. If something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. If you believe you have fallen victim to fraud, please make a report to Action Fraud online or via telephone on 0300 123 2040.”


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