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Revealed: the latest tricks that fraudsters are using to target those who buy and sell online

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Here, Detective Inspector Jon Hodgeon, Head of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Fraud and Economic Crime Unit shares the latest type of online marketplace fraud and what you can do to protect yourself:

“Action Fraud has received several reports indicating that sellers of items on online marketplace websites are falling victim to fraud by bogus buyers.

“Typically, the bogus buyers contact the seller wanting to purchase the item for sale and advise they will be sending the requested amount via PayPal or other electronic payment method.

“The seller then receives a fake, but official looking email stating they have been paid more than the asking price and to send the difference back to the buyer’s bank account.

“In reality, no money has ever been sent to the seller; the bogus buyer has spoofed an email and purported to be an online payment company. All contact is then severed with the seller.

“It is important to remember that selling anything could make you a target to these fraudsters however the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has identified that those offering sofas, large furniture and homeware are particularly vulnerable.”

Protection Advice

  • Don’t assume an email or phone call is authentic. Remember criminals can imitate any email address. Stay in control. Always use a trusted payment method online, such as Paypal, and have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for payment like bank transfers.
  • Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision.  Always verify that you have received payment from the buyer before completing a sale.
  • Listen to your instincts.  Criminals will try and make unusual behaviour, like overpaying, seem like a genuine mistake.

“The latest warnings come as we have just last week launched our latest awareness campaign, ‘Take Five North Yorkshire’, to help the public protect themselves against fraud. Through the campaign we hope to help the public to recognise fraudulent activity and confidently challenge any requests for personal or financial details.”

Visit our fraud advice page (northyorkshire.police.uk/fraud) for more information about how to protect yourself online or follow the Take Five North Yorkshire hashtag (#TFNY) on Facebook and Twitter.

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. In an emergency dial 999.

Last modified: April 9, 2018