Warning after several online scams reported to police

Post-Christmas is the perfect time to bag a bargain, but shoppers are being warned about a range of scams operating online.
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The money team from NetVoucherCodes.co.uk are advising Brits to buy with caution from social media sites after several scams have been reported to the police.

Shoppers can protect themselves online when buying and selling unwanted gifts by doing some background research on the seller and only sending sold items out when funds have been confirmed by the bank.

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Tactics from fraudulent sellers and scammers include selling desirable items at a low cost, offering deals that are too good to be true, and hacking accounts by phishing for personal information that can help them commit fraud later down the line.

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A spokesperson for NetVoucherCodes.co.uk said: “Sites like Facebook Marketplace are constantly searching for scams and removing listings that violate their policies, but some ads might slip through the net and sting unsuspected shoppers.

“There are plenty of steps you can take to try and ensure a seller is legitimate but if you ever think you have been scammed make sure you report the incident to the site and block the scammer.

“It only takes a second to report questionable profiles, ads, posts, or messages online. Every reputable selling site or social media marketplace will have an option to report on every page, post, and direct message.”

Here are NetVoucherCodes.co.uk’s tips to avoid scammers:

1. Too good to be true

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If an item is extremely rare, or starting to re-sell for a particularly high price, be suspicious and cautious of anyone offering the item for less. This is a popular scam prying on those looking to get high in-demand tech products, like phones and consoles, at a slightly reduced cost.

If you are shelling out loads, it’s often better to spend that little extra with a reputable retailer to cover your own back.

2. Look at other listings

Not sure if an offer is too good to be true? Or worried about the legitimacy of a seller? Get your detective on and do some digging.

Have a look at a range of listings of the product on a range of sites. If the seller has multiple listings of the same item, but across different locations or the same thing is being offered at a range of different prices, the odds are it’s a fraudulent scam.

3. Stay safe

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Safety on socials is key, especially if you have a payment method linked to the account. One of the easier ways to do this is by enabling two-factor authentication settings.

It sounds complicated, alerts you and stops anyone logging into your account from an unrecognised location or device. The site they are trying to access will send a code to your phone via text or an app and you confirm the action or report and deny it.

4. Keep an eye out for counterfeits

If an item looks legit, but the price seems low for what it is, ask yourself if it could be counterfeit. Check the seller’s reviews and avoid accounts that have just been created, as this could be someone whose just been blocked.

If you are unsure, ask for numerous images, or a well-lit video of the item and research how to tell if that product is the real deal.

5. Moving platforms

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If the buyer or seller of an item listed on online marketplaces is eager to get off the platform they advertised on, something sounds suspicious. Other platforms have less accountability, especially when it comes to exchanging money or bank details.

Keep conversations and transactions through trusted apps, sites, and payment methods.

6. Texts and codes

Scammers might sometimes ask you to send them a code you have received from a third party to verify your identity to them. Codes are sent out all of the time as a security measure from companies and apps to make sure the person pressing the buttons also has access to the funds, or at least the registered mobile phone number

7. Watch out for impersonators

Facebook alone has more than 2.85 billion active users every month, but with this many users, you can never truly be sure if someone is who they say they are… or if they just want your cash.

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Fake profiles made by cybercriminals are getting more and more sophisticated. There have been reports of clone accounts being made by impersonators who later contact listed family members or close friends through public tags. These accounts will have been created recently and may send links to infest your device with malware or make requests for money.

8. No funds and wrongful refunds

Sellers are particularly susceptible to scammers too. Fraudulent buyers can use counterfeit funds to buy an item, with it only becoming clear to the seller after they have parted with the item.

Some scammers then pay the seller more than the requested amount, claim to have made a mistake and request a partial refund. Decline any overpayments and only request payments through approved channels like PayPal.

9. Avoid being caught

Phishing for data is a common way for criminals to gain personal information about you. The information they get will be used at a later date to take part in cyber crimes, ranging from identity theft to selling data on dark web marketplaces.

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Be cautious about what you post online as set spoof security questions and answers if oversharing on social media is your thing.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.