Warning over fraudsters targeting online shoppers in run up to Christmas

Video report by ITV News Meridian's James Dunham

Online shoppers are being warned to be wary and vigilant as fraudsters target people on sites such as Facebook.

It comes as more people are likely to be looking for cheap deals online in the run up to Christmas because of the economic impact of the pandemic.

Scott Spencer-Smith, Rosie Dorime and Karla Taylor have all lost hundreds of pounds to scammers in this way.

Scott Spencer-Smith - lost £366

Scott from Storrington in West Sussex paid the money for a games console and phone, but received nothing.

I went through all the procedures on Facebook to report the incident but I've never had any contact from them whatsoever and that is the sad part of it.

Scott Spencer-Smith, targeted by a scammer

Rosie Dorime - lost £380

Rosie from Brighton in Sussex was conned when buying car rims.

It's really upsetting especially if you work hard for your money and out of nowhere somebody scams you like this, it's just not right.

Rosie Dorime, targeted by a scammer

Karla Taylor - almost lost £750

Karla, who lives between Oxford and Newbury, nearly sent out a bed and mattress for delivery before realising the buyer was not legitimate. 

I had a credit card to fall back on if I didn't have any money. But there are others out there that that's all the money they have and if something like that happens, that's all they have to fall back on.

Karla Taylor, targeted by a scammer

Social media sites such as Facebook can be great if you want to buy or sell something in your local area but some people use them to scam others.

That could involve somebody being sent an item which does not turn up as advertised or fraudsters create a fake account, persuade somebody to send over money for an item they never deliver.

Chris Conroy from Dorset Police says the fraudsters are most likely a mixture of people who are "chancing it" as well as others who carry out these scams "routinely".

The golden rule is, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. So if you turn up on a website and there's something that's really cheap, then have a good think about whether it's going to be legitimate.

Chris Conroy, Dorset Police

In a statement Facebook said: "We make it clear that sellers must comply with all applicable laws and regulations - including fraud. If we find that a listing violates any of our policies we will immediately remove it. We encourage people to report anything they think doesn't belong on our platforms so our teams can review and take action."