June 25, 2024

Last year, £7.3million was lost to online marketplace purchase scams by Santander customers.

As cautioned by Santander, fraudsters are masquerading as vendors on popular online marketplaces, duping individuals into parting with their hard-earned money.

The con artists are persuading buyers to remit money using insecure payment methods, such as bank transfers.

Gumtree and Santander are collaborating to inform customers about what they should be vigilant for, as April and May typically witness the peak influx of “for sale” listings on this platform.

In 2023, purchase scams that began on online selling sites and marketplaces cost Santander customers £7.3 million.

The number of scam report claims has increased by 32% over the past year, compared to 2022.

Santander cautions about burgeoning scam

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The fraudsters are mainly targeting users who have more than £500 in their accounts, as this was the average claim amount.

Of the total purchase scams reported to Santander in 2023, a staggering 80% originated on online selling platforms or marketplaces.

Last year, Gumtree worked tirelessly to regulate their marketplace to keep it secure for all shoppers.

A total of 1,177,292 listings which didn’t align with their standards and policies were removed from Gumtree’s platform in the past year.

Out of those listings, approximately 42,725 ads were purged due to suspicions of fraud.

According to Gumtree, the most popular items for criminals to fabricate fake listings about are:

  • Smartphones
  • Video game consoles
  • Digital cameras
  • Headphones
  • Dogs
  • Collectible items
  • Guitars

Chris Ainsley, Santander’s head of fraud risk management, stated: “Scammers are capitalizing on our affection for bagging a bargain more than ever, whether it be a hard-to-find collectible or a new phone.”

“It’s commendable to see online marketplaces like Gumtree going the extra mile not only to root out scam posts from their site but also to nip them in the bud.”

“Customers should always be suspicious of a listed item that seems like a steal, but the less these criminals are able to create these posts in the first place, the better.”

Purchase scams are fraudulent methods that appear as legitimate listings on marketplaces and digital platforms. Con artists usually advertise non-existent items and utilize unsecured payment methods

Action Fraud has offered guidance to customers about how to safeguard themselves from these types of scams.

On their website, they advise: “Before making a purchase from an unfamiliar company or person, do some research initially, and seek advice from a friend or family member before finalizing the purchase.”

“If you decide to proceed with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.”

“While some other payment methods do offer robust consumer protection, they are not obligated to provide the same level of protection as a credit card provider.”

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“Check their Terms and Conditions for exact details.”

Britons are also warned about clicking link in emails or texts they receive about astonishing offers.

These links may lead to counterfeit websites, designed to pilfer someone’s money and personal details.

Action Fraud advises: “Not all links are harmful, but if you’re not sure, don’t follow the link; instead, navigate separately to the website.”

Joseph Rindsland, Gumtree’s head of trust and safety, revealed: “We’ve significantly ramped up our technology investment in recent years to prevent scam posts from appearing on our site. Due to this, we are seeing a month on month reduction in the number of suspicious listings we have to remove.”

“However, fraudsters are relentless and we still removed tens of thousands of posts in 2023. That equates to tens of thousands of opportunities for criminals to defraud clients of their hard-earned money. That’s why we’re teaming up with Santander to educate our users on how they can more effectively protect themselves.”