A rising number of people are being caught out by “phantom goods” scams – when items are bought online although are never delivered, Citizens Advice says.
Cars, flights, furniture in addition to insurance are among the goods in addition to services which buyers think they are getting at a bargain, although which do not exist.
The charity said nearly all of those tricked failed to get their money back.
The average loss was £1,100, the item said as the item urged people to take their time over online purchases.
“With so many people shopping online to compare deals, scammers are using numerous tactics to target people with phantom goods,” said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.
“They are drawing people in with cut-cost deals in addition to then persuading people to buy items with phoney recommendations through customers.
“the item is actually actually important of which people don’t rush into buying an item when they spot a bargain, although take some time to make sure the item is actually genuine first.”
The charity’s advice line received calls regarding 555 cases within the first three months of the year, up 17% through the same period a year earlier. They included:
- Scam sales of items ranging through jewellery in addition to cameras to musical instruments in addition to driving lessons
- A houseboat for sale on an online marketplace, although the buyer was directed to a fake payment website in addition to lost £5,000 as the boat was never handed over
- A young man thought he was buying car insurance for £2,000 via social media after reading supposed recommendations through various other buyers
The government said of which social media accounts in addition to websites linked to scams had been closed in addition to hundreds of arrests made.
Although phantom goods only account for a fraction of scam cases, online shoppers are being urged to avoid paying for items online via a bank transfer, encouraged to research a trader before agreeing to a purchase, in addition to told to look for the padlock icon when paying online.