North East's police back drive to keep shoppers safe

Shoppers in the North East queuing for bargains on Black Friday 2014.
Shoppers in the North East queuing for bargains on Black Friday 2014.
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A national campaign has launched today to protect people from cyber crime this Christmas.

Northumbria Police are supporting the initiative as Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, approaches this week.

Last year individuals and businesses reported losing more than £16 million to fraudsters through online shopping and auction fraud over the festive period.

This was a 42 per cent increase in total financial loss in comparison to 2013.

Research by cyber detectives found the most common time for victims to initially make contact with the fraudster was on Black Friday, which this year is on November 28, and Cyber Monday, December 1.

On those days 221 and 205 people fell victim to fraudsters - but a further 220 people fell victim between December 20 and December 23 as they shopped for last minute bargains.

The most common item being bought and sold by victims and fraudsters were mobile phones. People reported trying to get good deals on some of the most popular models of smart phones - but the items never actually arrived.

Others reported being defrauded whilst trying to buy Footwear, clothing, watches, gaming consoles, computers, furniture and home electricals are some of the other things people were trying to buy when they lost money.

The campaign was launched by the City of London Police, Action Fraud and Get Safe Online today, and is being supported by Northumbria Police.

The campaign will last for 10 working days. Throughout this time practical fraud and cyber crime protection tips, aimed at preventing people from getting conned, will be issued.

Detective Inspector Angela Hufton is head of Northumbria Police's Cyber Crime Unit.

She said: "We would ask shoppers to be extra vigilant at this time of year and not to let the thought of what appears to be a bargain affect your usual care and common sense. If something seems too good to be true, it likely is."

Tony Neate, CEO, Get Safe Online hailed cyber criminals as "cruel and shameless" as they con people over the festive season.

He added: "Christmas should be a happy time but in the last few years, we have seen the numbers for online crime at Christmas go up and up, particularly as the hype around Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains keeps getting bigger.

"Working with Action Fraud and the City of London police, we are hoping this campaign will highlight how people and businesses need to be extra cautious when grabbing those deals online."

Shoppers are being urged to take a number of steps to ensure that they are not conned - including checking if the website and product is legitimate before paying, and looking for customer reviews.

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online fraud reporting tool.