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Black Friday: Police issue fraud warning for east London shoppers

PUBLISHED: 16:05 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:24 22 November 2018

Tomorrow (November 23) is Black Friday, a day when major retailers will have significant discounts available online and in stores. Photo: PA / Dominic Lipinski

Tomorrow (November 23) is Black Friday, a day when major retailers will have significant discounts available online and in stores. Photo: PA / Dominic Lipinski

PA Wire/PA Images

The Metropolitan Police are warning internet shoppers across east London to stay alert and avoid being a victim of fraud ahead of one of the busiest days of the year for online shopping.

Tomorrow (November 23) is Black Friday, a day when major retailers will have significant discounts available online and in stores.

As the festive season approaches, the Met are running the next phase of its campaign to raise awareness of online shopping fraud.

This is a crime which costs Londoners in excess of £8million a year and makes up about 25 per cent of all reports of fraud in London.

Det Insp Suzanne Grimmer, of the Met’s organised crime command, said: “Black Friday gives fraudsters and scammers the perfect opportunity to take advantage of online shoppers desperate for a bargain.

“A few simple, common sense measures can ensure that people protect themselves and avoid being vulnerable to fraudsters.

“The purpose of this campaign is to educate online buyers about how to safely use the internet to shop.

“The most important piece of advice is not to be pressured into making a quick bank transfer for a special deal.

“It can always be tempting to pay a bargain price for sought-after items, but you may end up paying money for a product that does not even exist.”

In the last financial year there were 6,879 reports of online shopping fraud in London, an increase of 946, or 16pc on the previous year.

Between April and September in 2018, there have been a total of 3,244 reported online shopping fraud incidents, averaging around 19 reports each day.

The average loss to each victim is about £1,200.

“While the monetary value of many online shopping frauds may be relatively low, some of them can be thousands of pounds. This can be devastating for victims,” said Det Insp Grimmer.

“The Met is working with online shopping sites to identify fraudulent sellers and this prevention campaign is supported with enforcement activity when the fraud is reported to us.”

As part of the Met’s campaign, a series of digital banner advertisements are being run online, including on some of the UK’s biggest online auction sites. The banners are intended to prompt shoppers to think carefully before making bank transfers outside the safeguards of official websites.

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