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Sharp rise in people being defrauded via adverts on social media

25th November 2016

This Christmas the City of London police who run Action Fraud, supported by police forces across the country, are launching a national awareness campaign to help prevent people from becoming victims of online shopping fraud as well as other types of fraud which people fall victim to during the seasonal period. 

Over 30 days from Black Friday to Boxing Day, the ‘Advent Calendar of Christmas Fraud’ will offer advice and tips on how to beat the fraudsters this Christmas.

New figures released today show that last year, victims reported losing over £10 million to fraudsters when shopping online for Christmas presents. The largest loss was one victim who lost £86,000 when he tried to purchase a boat from a fraudster on Ebay. 

Figures for last Christmas show that last year 12,142 people said that they had been a victim of online shopping fraud during the Christmas period with 133 people saying that they had been defrauded on Black Friday and another 115 falling victim on Cyber Monday. 

Fraudsters use these days to target shoppers with analysis showing that mobile phones and footwear were the items most popular for victims to be defrauded buying. 

Approaches via social media

Increasingly young people are being approached by fraudsters on social media channels who offer seemingly great Christmas shopping deals. Last year more people than ever reported that they had been initially approached on Instagram with a 64% increase compared to the year before. 

Analysis of Action Fraud reports from last Christmas showed that Items such as home electricals, mobile phones and jewellery were the most common items which fraudsters offered to victims. 

Taking down websites used to commit fraud

City of London Police analyses all Action Fraud reports and tries to prevent more people falling victim of fraud by requesting the suspension of the websites, bank accounts and phone lines that fraudsters use to commit their crimes. 

Last year 418 websites were disrupted by the team which was a 67% increase on the year before. Phone lines used by fraudsters were also disrupted by the team with 93 being taken down during December. 

The City of London Police’s Commander Chris Greany, the National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime said: “Christmas is prime time for fraudsters to take advantage of the British public. During the festive season people rush to buy the presents they have been asking for, however fraudsters see this period of generosity as an opportunity to strike and steal money from unsuspecting victims. 

“Our campaign is designed to give individuals up to date advice that will keep them one step ahead of the criminals that target UK shoppers from all over the globe. Everyone deserves a crime free Christmas so make sure it’s the criminals that are left short changed this festive period".

To report a fraud and cyber crime and receive a police crime reference number, call us on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

Sign up for free to Action Fraud Alert to receive direct, verified, accurate information about scams and fraud in your area by email, recorded voice and text message.