What is a purchase or bank transfer scam?

Have you ever sent money to someone for goods or services that you never received? Perhaps you transferred money for an item and then was subsequently ignored or blocked by the seller? In some cases, you might have made the bank transfer and then discovered the listing had been removed or the seller had taken down their profile entirely? If this has happened to you then it’s very likely that you have fallen victim to a purchase or shopping scam.

So, what is a purchase scam? Purchase scams are often referred to as authorised push payment (APP) or bank transfer scams. This is because the victim knowingly transfers, and therefore authorises, a payment because they believe they are making a legitimate purchase from a genuine seller. Unfortunately for many, this is not the case and a lot of online shoppers find themselves out of pocket as a result of online fraudsters.

What are the most common types of purchase / bank transfer scams?

Cyber criminals can and do advertise a wide variety of goods or services in order to dupe people out of their hard-earned cash. Many of these are high value items, such as cars, which are advertised all year round. However, the most common types of purchase or bank transfer scams often involve the current must-have trends including those items that, for lots of reasons, can be difficult to get hold of.

For example, we found that online fraudsters were quick to capitalise on the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. During lockdown, when gyms closed, there was a surge in demand for gym equipment which fraudsters capitalised on. They also preyed on peoples’ vulnerability, specifically their loneliness during this time, leading to an increase in bogus sales of pets e.g. puppy scams.

We also often see seasonal trends in terms of the type of scam products advertised. In the Summer months, especially when travel wasn’t permitted last year, we saw an increase in garden furniture or hot tub scams. Whereas in the Winter, particularly in the run up to Christmas, we saw high volumes of scams involving designer clothes, particularly trainers, and the latest gifts, most recently electric scooter scams.

Finally, there will always be new releases of popular and limited-edition items. These include gaming consoles e.g. the new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X and phones such as the new Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Not to mention tickets for sell out events whereby scammers often con people into paying over the odds for tickets they either don’t have or aren’t prepared to part with.

But regardless of the scam, no matter how big or small the item, you can recover your losses if you transferred the money from a UK bank account. We are experts in purchase / bank transfer scams and have a proven track record in recovering money lost to scammers via a bank transfer so if you have been affected by this type of shopping scam then get in touch today.

Where do scammers typically sell their goods?

This list is by no means exhaustive but last year the most common platforms whereby our clients had purchased goods, which later turned out to be a scam, were:

Facebook Marketplace Scams

Facebook has been found to be home to con artists and catfishes so it’s little wonder they’ve moved on to Facebook Marketplace. Whilst Facebook Marketplace can be an easy and convenient way of picking up a bargain in your local area it can also be host to scammers so beware of paying in advance for products that seem too good to be true.

Instagram Scams

Instagram is very popular with cybercriminals who use it to impersonate people or brands online. Unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more of these so in addition to unverified retailers be wary of romance scams; offers to earn a second income; advance fees to unlock bigger prizes; false investments or loans that require a deposit upfront.

eBay Scams

Buy, sell, eBay? eBay, the original online marketplace, is not immune from scammers with both sellers and buyers trying to trick each other out of money or goods. We’ve seen it all from: sellers not sending the item or suggesting a bogus location for pick-up to buyers claiming the item wasn’t received (thus requesting a refund from eBay) or asking to settle outside of the platform and then not sending the cash. However, if you’ve bank transferred money in an eBay scam we can help.

Gumtree Scams

Want to find what’s good in your neighbourhood? Gumtree is badged as your local buying and selling community but is it safe? Unfortunately, Gumtree can be vulnerable to scammers as negotiation, payment and postage is left to the buyer and seller to arrange themselves. It’s therefore not uncommon for scammers to use this platform.

Shpock Scams

Shpock: the joy of selling? Not for everyone! Like Gumtree buyers and sellers make their own arrangements for the purchase and delivery of goods so this is another platform where scammers have previously convinced individuals to pay for non-existent items leaving them out of pocket and without the much sought-after goods.

If you’ve bank transferred money to scammers posing as genuine sellers on any of these platforms, or indeed any other platforms, then we can help. Just let us know the details of the scam and circumstances surrounding the purchase and we’ll give you no obligation advice on making a purchase / bank transfer scam claim.

What can I do to protect myself from online scammers?

CEL Solicitors’ Top Tips to avoid purchase scams are:

  • Watch out for unsolicited emails and always check out the official website (typing it into your browser as opposed to following links contained in an email) to cross-check a deal.
  • If you’re buying from a well-known brand it’s likely they have a list of authorised retailers so always check their website to see if it’s likely this seller will stock their products.
  • Do your homework before making a purchase, including reading reviews to check if they are legitimate, as many find out later that others have warned about a fraudster.
  • Be wary of unbelievable ‘bargains’ because quite often, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Finally, trust your instincts. Many of our clients cite regretting a purchase immediately after making it so always go with your gut.

Can I get my money back from a purchase / bank transfer scam?

If you’re among those people who have been tricked into making a bank transfer to an online scammer then you are not alone. Purchase scams are the most common type of scams we deal with so if you have been conned by an online fraudster, we can help you.

Many people feel embarrassed when they realise they have been duped by online fraudsters, but you should never hesitate to get in touch. We are experts in fraud recovery and can help you get your money back from a scam, so you have nothing to lose by making an enquiry.

What will it cost me to make a purchase / bank transfer scam claim?

We never ask for money upfront and we work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis so if unsuccessful you won’t pay a penny. If we are successful in recovering your losses, we deduct a success fee, capped at 25% plus VAT of any monies we recover on your behalf. However, we also claim damages for stress and inconvenience and interest at 8% from the date you lost your money, so you can often get close to 100% of the money that you lost if we’re able to secure compensation in addition to your money back.

How do I know you are genuine?

To reassure you, CEL Solicitors is a trading name of Cheshire Estates and Legal Limited (company number: 10370954). We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number: 633955). To check this, you can visit the Law Society’s website and look us up using their ‘Find a Solicitor’ tool, which is a free service for anyone looking for information about organisations or people providing legal services in England and Wales that are regulated by the SRA. We would urge you to research anyone who offers to help you get you money back from a scam. Unfortunately, scammers often come back to their victims with offers to help so it’s not uncommon for people to be scammed multiple times.

What else can I do to protect myself and others from scammers?

First and foremost, if you ever feel threatened or are worried you may be danger then call the police immediately by dialling 999. If you don’t believe you’re in danger, but you’ve been scammed in the last 24 hours, or you’re concerned the scammer is from your local area, then contact the police by dialling 101.

Providing you’re not in any immediate danger then you should start by gathering all the details of the scam. Start at the beginning and write down what’s happened to you including: how you were targeted / what prompted you to make the purchase; who you’ve been in contact with (providing any links to the seller); their contact details / how you’ve been corresponding with them; what made you think it was legitimate (e.g. a realistic looking website) and what has made you suspicious (e.g. the items never arrived); what information you've shared with them and how you paid them.

Once you’ve gathered all of the relevant infromation you should start by notifying your bank. Do this as soon as you become concerned that you may have been scammed. Hopefully they can stop the payment or recover the funds but it’s imperative that you notify them as soon as possible to have the best chance of recovering your money.

For purchase scams, you should also report the scammer to Trading Standards. Trading Standards gather information about scams so that they can investigate and take legal action against fraudsters. Give them as much information as possible as, depending on what they find, they can prosecute scammers and stop them from targeting other people in future.

In addition to Trading Standards, you should always report any fraud or scam to Action Fraud. Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime so if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced any type of online crime then you should let them know. Action Fraud works alongside the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) who are responsible for assessing the reports and ensuring they’re investigated. They'll give you a crime reference number, which can be helpful if you need to tell your bank you've been scammed, so make a note of this.

Finally, get in touch with us. CEL Solicitors specialise in recovering money lost to scammers. We offer a complete fraud and scam recovery service, which you can read more about here. If you’re among those people who’ve suffered as a result of a fraud or scam, then there are steps we can take to recover your money so get in touch today.

How can I get in touch to start my purchase / bank transfer scam claim?

You can call us on 0808 273 0900 or start your claim online. Alternatively, you can fill out our contact form and a member of our scam recovery team will contact you. We offer free initial, no obligation advice so you have nothing to lose by getting in touch and having a chat with one of our specially trained advisors.

Why choose CEL Solicitors?

Our solicitors understand that our clients need practical solutions. Our commercially minded team have worked for some of the biggest names in financial services. We offer a range of specialist services tailored to support both consumers and businesses with fraud or scams in relation to banking and finance transactions.

Our experienced team is routinely involved in fraud and scam detection, prevention as well as recovery and finance litigation. We are experts in fraud and scams, including cross-border finance transactions, supporting our UK clients with domestic and international funds recovery.

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