Unfortunately, scams are on the rise and the bank has warned that certain groups are more susceptible, especially when it comes to shopping scams. On average, Santander said from January to November 2022, men were defrauded of £1,017.73, while women were defrauded of £756.85.
Christmas and New Year were identified as the most active periods for scams to emerge, and he urged people to stay alert.
Santander shared the story of a man known only as Mr W, 29, who sadly fell victim to a scam.
The 29-year-old saw a van for sale online and contacted the seller in the hope of showing interest.
In order to do his due diligence, Mr W decided to carry out his own checks to ensure that the details matched what the seller had told him.
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However, the seller told him that he had family problems and the couple agreed to delay until the following weekend.
Once the following weekend arrived, Mr W called the seller to arrange for the van to be picked up, but this time there was no answer.
Confused, the 29-year-old drove to the collection address, but no one was home and there was no van on the property.
It was a neighbor who told Mr W that the person who lived at the address did not have the name of the seller he had been in contact with and that they had never seen a van parked there.
Only then did Mr W realize he had been part of an elaborate scam, which left him thousands of pounds out of pocket.
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This, Santander explains, is an example of a purchase scam, a type of scam that is unfortunately on the rise.
Scammers may advertise a fake sale of a popular item, often on social media or through a fake website.
Initially, the fraudster may be friendly and willing to help, but later he is likely to create a sense of panic so that the person pays urgently.
The scammer often insists that payment is made via an upfront bank transfer, rather than through payment services or cash on delivery.
Once the payment is made, the seller usually disappears or stops communicating, leaving the customer out of pocket.
To make matters worse, no item is ever received.
Chris Ainsley, Head of Fraud Risk Management at Santander UK, said: “With cost of living pressures rising, this Black Friday and the Christmas period, it’s likely that more of us will be looking for a bargain either in an online marketplace or on social networks.
“But buyers need to be vigilant to avoid falling victim to a scammer.
“Shopping scams are the most common scam we see, and no one wants to be disappointed when that coveted item never arrives. So stay safe.
“Don’t be pressured into paying for something by bank transfer, instead follow the payment advice recommended by the shopping site and never pay by bank transfer if you haven’t seen the item in person.”
If you buy from a reputable website, people should always follow the advice given by these companies and never communicate outside of the website.
If possible, individuals should avoid paying in cash or by bank transfer and opt for secure payments such as a credit card.
All large items must be viewed in person prior to purchase and personal details should never be sent via email.
Finally, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is, and people should always trust their gut.