Black Friday scammers targeting Christmas gifts and popular lockdown purchases

Black Friday scammers are targeting lockdown purchases like patio heaters and sheds, the banking industry has warned.

UK Finance, the trade body for the biggest financial institutions, said criminals would target people trying to take advantage of the sales for purchase fraud, where consumers are tricked into paying for products which are shoddy or do not exist.

It said there had been a rising trend for scams linked to Christmas gifts, like video games and consoles, and items which have been popular ahead of the second lockdown, like patio heaters and paint.

It also warned that conmen are using the guise of Christmas deals to harvest personal information which could later be used for fraud.

Katy Worobec, director for economic crime at UK Finance, said: “As consumer spending has shifted online, criminals have ruthlessly adjusted their approaches to pursue those shopping on the internet. With Black Friday and Christmas approaching, fraudsters are again stepping up their efforts to take advantage of consumers searching for bargains.”

The average victim of purchase fraud in the first half of the year lost £720, the body said. 

There are signs Black Friday could be bigger than recent years with non-essential shops closed until early December and coronavirus continuing to spread.

Research this week by TopCashback found a third of people are more likely to make a purchase in the sales this year because of Covid-19.