Businesses and shoppers in Lancashire reported losing almost £240,000 to online fraudsters last Christmas, it has been revealed.
During the festive period of 2014, there were 299 reports of online and auction fraud made by people in Lancashire.
Now police are warning families to be extra vigilant online ahead of Black Friday this week – one of the key times for victims to be targeted.
Lancashire Police are joining forces with Action Fraud, the City of London Police and Get Safe Online, to warn people not to get conned by online crime.
Last Christmas people in the county reported losing £238,526 to online fraudsters through online shopping and auction fraud.
Reports show the most common time for victims to initially make contact with the fraudster was on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, as people headed online to try to bag the best festive bargains.
DC Mark Laing, of the digital investigation unit at Lancashire Police, said: “Online shopping continues to thrive and we know that so many people will be surfing the net to buy gifts for their loved ones.
“We want to make sure that they don’t fall victim to cyber-fraudsters and their scams.
“Last year during the festive period there were 299 reports of online shopping and auction fraud made to Action Fraud from people within Lancashire.
“Some of the most common items being bought and sold by victims and fraudsters included smart phones, footwear, clothing, watches, gaming consoles, computers and furniture.”
The national fraud prevention campaign launched this week and will provide fraud and cyber crime protection tips.
Police national coordinator for economic crime, Commander Chris Greany, said: “When it comes to online shopping if something looks like it is a great bargain it’s probably poor quality, fake or doesn’t even exist.”
Report cyber-fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk.