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Santander says purchase scams cost customers £7.2 million in 2023





Santander says cases of purchase scams jumped by a third last year – costing its customers millions of pounds.

The banking giant estimates that in 2023, £7.3 million was lost by people who were caught out by fake adverts posted to online selling sites and market places.

Santander is urging customers to be cautious when shopping through online selling sites and marketplaces. Image: Stock photo.
Santander is urging customers to be cautious when shopping through online selling sites and marketplaces. Image: Stock photo.

The average claim, says a report into the fraud, was £500.

The sharp rise in fake listings, in which criminals pose as sellers offering items for sale that are not as described or simply don’t exist, has led to a 32% increase in incidents involving the bank’s customers when compared with 2022.

Often, says Santander, the buyer is encouraged by scammers to speed-up the sale and send the money via a method that does not offer the relevant payment protection such as a bank transfer or PayPal ‘friends and family’.

Victims are also often given excuses by those posing as sellers as to why they can’t view the item before paying.

The bank, is now working with selling site Gumtree to remind households of the potential dangers, as April and May see the highest volume of ‘for sale’ listings on the platform as people embark on spring clear outs.

The average claim was £500 from victims who lost money. Image: iStock.
The average claim was £500 from victims who lost money. Image: iStock.

Last year Gumtree says it had to remove a total of 1,177,292 listings from across its platform, which failed to meet posting standards and policies. Of those, 42,725 ads were removed due to suspicions of fraud, an actual decrease of -31% year on year, which the selling site attributes to its improved safety infrastructure that halts scam listings being posted in the first place.

According to Gumtree the most popular items for criminals to create fake posts about include smart phones, games consoles, digital cameras, headphones, dogs, collectables and guitars.

Chris Ainsley, head of fraud risk management at Santander said: “More than ever, scammers are homing in on our love of grabbing a bargain, whether it’s that ‘impossible’ to come by collectible or a new phone.

“Customers should always be wary of an item for sale that seems too good to be true, but the more that can be done to stop criminals from creating these posts in the first place, the better.”

People should use protected methods when paying, says Santander and Gumtree. Image: Stock photo.
People should use protected methods when paying, says Santander and Gumtree. Image: Stock photo.

Any item priced under the recommended selling value should be a red flag, says the bank, while customers are being advised to always use secure payment methods. Buying locally, insisting on seeing an item before paying and checking the seller’s profile and previous items sold are also among the tips for avoiding getting caught out.

Joseph Rindsland, head of trust and safety at Gumtree, said: “We’ve invested heavily in recent years in technology to prevent scam posts making it to our site and thanks to this, the volume of suspicious listings we’re having to remove is falling month on month.

“But scammers are tenacious, and we still removed tens of thousands of posts in 2023. That’s tens of thousands of opportunities for criminals to take customer’s hard-earned cash, which is why we’re teaming up with Santander to advise our users how they can better protect themselves.”



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