Buyers Beware: Shopping Cons Revealed - Tonight

Cyber crime and fraud are a billion pound criminal business with more than 402,540 cyber crime and fraud reports to Action fraud with losses of £2.5 billion (Oct 2019-Oct 2020).

Adam Shaw investigates the spike in online shopping and auction fraud in the run up to Christmas. 

One of those conned was 50-year-old Jo,  who wanted to treat her and her family to a hot tub, to celebrate her recovery from Coronavirus.  

“I was in intensive care for two weeks.  My lung collapsed and I had an asthma attack on the ventilator,” she said.

Jo hugging her daughter after coming out of intensive care.

“But I pulled through obviously and then spent a long-time convalescing.

“It was very difficult for the whole family really.”

Her family saw an inflatable one on eBay. 

They contacted the seller and then they spoke in person: “He said “Oh yes I’ve got one left and you’re really lucky because I’ve just sold you know several others”.”

She bank transferred the money and drove to pick it up. 

“It was a really nice road and we pulled up at the house and there was a notice on the front door, and it said, there are no hot tubs here you have been given the wrong address,”she explained. 

The psychotherapist had been scammed and when she tried to contact the seller he blocked her number.

When she googled his number she saw other people had complained about the same scam.

A spokesperson for eBay said: “Buyers are required to pay on ebay in order to be eligible for protections.

“Requests to pay via bank transfer can be a sign of a scam, and concerns a listing may not be genuine should be reported.”

Adam Shaw also examines the dangerous goods available online from third-party sellers on big brand market places.

Reporter Adam Shaw looks into various dangerous goods available online that may be prime pickings for presents this year.

Sadie, 10, from Merseyside needed emergency surgery after she accidentally swallowed powerful magnet beads: “Throw them in the bin cos any other child could pick them up and swallow them.”

Her mum Catherine bought them off Amazon: “They are advertised as educational.

“They’d been joining together, fusing together and putting holes through her intestine.”

The beads perforated Sadie’s intestine and needed part of her bowel removed.

These types of beads are banned in New Zealand, Australia and Canada, and Catherine thinks the UK should follow suit.

“You wouldn’t think they were going to do any harm until something harmful happens or until you know someone.”

A spokesperson for Amazon said: “We understand it has been distressing and the product in question has been removed. 

“Sellers are required to comply with the laws, regulations and Amazon prohibits  the sale of any small powerful magnets that do not comply with regulations.  

“We actively monitor product safety and remove products. If a customer has a concern, contact Customer Service directly - they will investigate and take appropriate action.”

Campaigners want online marketplaces to also be liable if something goes wrong.

Natasha Crookes from the British Toy and Hobby Association said it can even be hard tracing the original seller: “Often they’re overseas and  so enforcement can’t get to them.”

She added if that happened the online marketplace should be liable: “They will basically either give you your money back or if you need to have long terms compensation because there’s been a serious accident that that platform is the person, the entity in the UK that you would go to and that they would be responsible for the safety of that product.”

The British Toy and Hobby Association have bought 100 items from third-party sellers on online marketplaces in the last 12 months. 

Eighty-six of those tested were illegal to sell in the UK.ITV Tonight's 'Buyers Beware: Shopping Cons Revealed' is on ITV at 7:30pm.