Parents looking to get a bargain ahead of Christmas on Black Friday are being urged to be on their guard against fake deals - as the amount lost to purchase scams rose to £41m in the first half of this year.
Criminals can advertise high value tech such as phones at low prices to attract buyers, persuading them to make bank transfers, but then disappearing once the payment is made.
Fraudsters often use fake websites or advertisements on social media, or even auction websites.
Only a quarter of parents surveyed as part of the Take Five To Stop Fraud campaign said they always researched sellers before they buy.
UK Finance’s recent fraud report found that purchase scams are the most common kind of fraud, accounting for two-thirds of cases.
The volume of purchase scam cases has grown by 43 per cent, from 53,907 in the first half of 2022, to 76,946 in the first half of 2023 - amounting to £40.9 million.
Earlier this week, Martin Lewis issued a warning to Christmas shoppers this Black Friday who risk spending hundreds of pounds unnecessarily. The Money Saving Expert said shoppers could be buying a “dud” because they have been on sale for cheaper at various points this year.
Ben Donaldson, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “More and more criminals are using fake ads and websites to target their victims.
“And particularly at this time of year, too many parents who are trying to bring joy to their children are falling victim to these ruthless crimes.
“The consequences go beyond financial, because the deception involved can cause real emotional and psychological damage. So, this Black Friday, when you’re searching for gifts for your children and loved ones, take extra care online. Check sellers thoroughly before buying and make sure you follow the Take Five to Stop Fraud advice – stop, challenge, protect.”