UK Shoppers Lost £16m to Fraud Last Christmas

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The City of London police has warned UK consumers to stay vigilant this Christmas after new stats revealed they lost a staggering £16m during the busy shopping period last year.

That figure represents a 45% increase on 2015 and the police force, which runs the UK’s National Fraud and Cybercrime Reporting Centre, wants to avoid a repeat this year.

It claimed 15,423 shoppers were hit in 2016, with online auction fraud accounting for the vast majority (65%) of cases. Consumers lost an average of £727 on sites such as eBay, Gumtree and Etsy.

Fraudsters typically offer high value goods such as mobiles phones, clothing and accessories, and footwear, with Yeezy trainers, Kylie Jenner make-up, hair dryers, drones and Fitbit watches also popular choices.

Interestingly, it was men in the 20-29 age group that were most likely to be taken in online — they accounted for 13% of all cases reported to Action Fraud last Christmas.

That’s why the police are asking consumers to be more patient and take their time when shopping online this December.

“Christmas is a busy time of year when we are required to make several quick decisions, especially when it comes to present buying. Our fraud awareness campaign is highlighting that it is very much ‘the thought that counts’ especially when it comes to avoiding fraudsters,” said City of London Police commander Dave Clark.

“With a sharp rise in fraud reporting at Christmas time it is more important than ever that people do everything they can to protect themselves from fraudsters, stopping them from enjoying the holiday season at the expense of others.”

UK shoppers are predicted to spend £10bn during the Black Friday period alone, with ThreatMetrix warning retailers to expect upwards of 50 million fraud attempts this week.

Security experts have also warned of a glut of fake Black Friday themed apps spoofing the branding of top retailers. 

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