Action Fraud has received a large number of reports from victims who have been defrauded when attempting to purchase items on online shopping and auction websites.
Reporting shows that internet fraudsters are increasingly exploiting victims’ readiness to sign for deliveries before checking the contents, which causes them difficulties when they later attempt to dispute the transaction.
The victim finds a desirable item online and, assuming the seller to be legitimate, makes payment for the item, in many cases using a reputable payment protection service.
A few days later, the victim or victim’s co-habitant signs for a recorded delivery, which they then find to be empty or contain an item that they did not order.
When the ordered item does not arrive, the victim attempts to track their package online and discovers that the package they signed for had the same tracking number as the ordered item, at this point realising that they have been scammed.
This causes the victim problems when they subsequently dispute the transaction with the auction site, as the tracking information confirms that an item has been successfully delivered to the victim’s address.
Always check seller feedback when buying online – if the seller has a lot of recent negative feedback, do not buy from them. It is not unknown for fraudsters to hack legitimate accounts or trick legitimate sellers into allowing them to use their account for fraudulent purposes, so focus on the most recent feedback.
Consider keeping a list of which items you and the people you live with are expecting to be delivered as it can be particularly confusing when you have a large number of items on the way, which is often the case in the run up to Christmas.
If you are asked to sign for a package and are in any doubt as to what it is for, consider opening and verifying it before signing for the item.
If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk