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Local charity raising awareness of online scams

Citizens Advice has revealed a 17% increase in people being scammed after purchasing 'phantom goods'. Photo: ITV News

Local advice charity, Citizens Advice Exeter, is spreading the word about scams to help stop more people across Exeter from being conned online.

The charity is taking part in Scams Awareness Month, a campaign taking place throughout July encouraging people to report and talk about scams.

The drive to get more people reporting scams comes as nationally Citizens Advice has revealed a 17% increase in people being scammed after purchasing 'phantom goods'.

The scam works by conning shoppers into buying high value items online, which turn out not to exist. The average loss was £1,100.

People were most likely to be scammed when buying cars, flights and furniture. Other 'phantom goods' included jewellery and cameras.

People were most likely to be scammed when buying cars, flights and furniture. Credit: ITV News

The Citizens Advice consumer service received 555 reports of 'phantom goods' scams during January and March 2017, compared with 475 over the same period the year before.

Being scammed can ruin people's finances."People can lose significant amounts from phantom good scams, so it's important they don't rush into online purchases until they're sure the seller is genuine.

During Scams Awareness Month we're encouraging people to play their part in preventing scams by reporting them and telling others about them. People can also come and see us or call the Citizens Advice consumer service if they want advice on whether something is a genuine deal or a scam or for advice if they have been scammed.

– Steve Barriball, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Exeter

We work closely with Citizens Advice to try and ensure people aren't duped. Many websites and adverts look very professional and sometimes it can be difficult to tell these apart from the genuine article.

Often in these types of scams the fraudsters will claim to be local and if the consumer is tempted to buy something expensive, they should try and see it for themselves before purchase.Other scams about delivery of goods invite you to open attachments. If you weren't expecting it then don't open it and don't click on links to view the details.

– Councillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council's Cabinet Member with responsibility for trading standards