With Christmas fast approaching, many will be looking to buy bargains or sell items for a spot of cash. But beware of scams as you look to seal those deals say Leicestershire Police fraud officers.
Scammers are always looking for easy opportunities and when everyone is so busy at Christmas they might not go through the normal checks and balances. Nicole McIntyre is part of the force’s Economic Crime Unit. Nicole said “It’s surprising how far the perpetrators spread their net. We see frauds that originate from across the world, yet have local networks here in Leicestershire working on their behalf.”
One such case is that of a victim from Ireland who advertised her iPhone for sale on Gumtree and agreed a price of £260 over WhatsApp for it.
“The scammers then emailed her a fake PayPal message that made it appear as though they had sent payment for the phone, when in fact they hadn’t. Completely unaware, she posted the phone to an address in Leicester and the scam was done. Often the addresses are vacant or those with multiple occupancy. Sometimes the scammers wait outside the property to intercept the parcel, knowing its due to arrive. Investigations have led us to believe that in this particular case the perpetrators originate from somewhere in Africa but have people here in Leicester working for them.”
Nicole says that it is important to check and not simply accept that the email you have received is true and correct.
“Make sure you log into your account and confirm a payment has actually taken place. Post items with insurance if possible through the post office. Often the scammers will try and pressure you in some way to rush the sale so take a moment and never meet them in an isolated or unusual place for a handover either. Some scammers show real cash but at the last minute swap it for fake notes or even paper.”
The 30-year-old victim in this case said: “I’m aware that there are scams out there but this one took me completely off guard. I’d warn anyone to check their emails are legitimate before doing anything and follow the advice so that they don’t find themselves out of pocket like I did.”
It’s important that anyone that is scammed reports it to Action Fraud – the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, which will feed crimes back to local forces. The number to call them is 0300 123 2040.
Take Five is also a national campaign offering straight forward, impartial advice that helps prevent email, phone-based and online fraud.