Online shopping scams: Statistics for 2024

Find out the latest statistics on online shopping fraud.

Online shopping is quick and easy, and it can help you compare prices from a range of places. However, there are some risks when using your credit card online. We explore the latest statistics on the rise of online shopping scams.

Quick overview

  • An estimated £285.2 million was lost to e-commerce fraud on UK cards in 2022, down 16% from 2021 and down 24% from 2020.
  • There were 71,894 reports of online shopping scams in the year to October 2023.
  • The average person who reported online shopping fraud to the police lost £1,486 per scam.
  • Merchants are expected to lose £31 billion ($38 billion) to online payment fraud worldwide in 2023.
  • Counterfeit goods scams were the second most common type of online fraud, impacting 42% of those who had experienced fraud.
  • Purchase scams starting on Facebook and Instagram are expected to cost UK consumers more than £27 million in 2023.
  • Two-thirds (68%) of all online purchase scams in the UK start on Facebook and Instagram.
  • From October 2022 to October 2023, the value of almost half (47%) of all losses was reported in December 2022.

How much is lost to online shopping scams each year?

It is estimated that £285.2 million was lost to e-commerce fraud on UK cards in 2022, down 16% from £339.2 million losses in 2021. During the past decade, losses from e-commerce fraud peaked in 2020, most likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reliance on online shopping.

Before 2020, the total amount lost to online shopping fraud had been gradually increasing year-on-year, but the trend now looks as though this is declining.

Year Losses (£ millions)
2013 £140.2 million
2014 £190.1 million
2015 £219.1 million
2016 £261.5 million
2017 £310.3 million
2018 £310.4 million
2019 £360.5 million
2020 £377.2 million
2021 £339.2 million
2022 £285.2 million

How much do merchants lose to e-commerce fraud?

Merchants are expected to lose around £31 billion ($38 billion) to online payment fraud worldwide in 2023, and this is expected to reach a total of around £75 billion ($91 billion) by 2028. Projections suggest that, over the next 5 years, merchants operating online stores will lose a grand total of almost £300 billion ($362 billion) worldwide.

How many online shopping scams are reported to the police?

There were 71,894 reports of online shopping scams in the year to October 2023, with reported losses of £106.8 million made to the police. The average person lost £1,486 per online shopping scam, based on those instances reported to the police.

Almost half (47%) of the value of reported losses in the year to October 2023 were reported in December 2022. This is likely due to increased online shopping before Christmas and during the Black Friday sales, with more opportunities for online shopping scams to take place.

Year Reported monthly losses (£ millions)
Oct 22 £4.2 million
Nov 22 £9 million
Dec 22 £50.7 million
Jan 23 £4.2 million
Feb 23 £4 million
Mar 23 £5.1 million
Apr 23 £5.1 million
May 23 £4.4 million
Jun 23 £4.7 million
Jul 23 £6.8 million
Aug 23 £4.8 million
Sep 23 £3.9 million

There were a total of 129,027 consumer fraud reports in the 12-month period to October 2023, which means that online shopping fraud accounted for more than half (56%) of all reported consumer fraud.

There were a total of 354,596 fraud and cyber crime reports made to the police in this period, which means that 1 in 5 (20%) of these reports was related to online shopping and auction fraud.

Online shopping scams on social media

Shopping on social media platforms is becoming more popular, particularly with the rise of Facebook Marketplace, which allows people to sell their second-hand items to those who are looking for a better deal than buying something new.

However, according to external research, purchase scams starting on Facebook and Instagram are becoming very common, and around two-thirds (68%) of all online purchase scams start on Facebook (including Facebook Marketplace) and Instagram. These social media-based online shopping scams are expected to cost UK consumers more than £27 million in 2023.

Which age group is most susceptible to online shopping fraud?

Demographic data from 2020 shows that people in their 20s were the most likely to be a victim of an online shopping scam, making up 29% of the total reports. They were followed by people in their 30s (23%), 40s (17%) and teens (12%). As a result, 80% of all online shopping fraud victims were under the age of 50.

Age of Victims Victim %
0-9 0.17%
10-19 11.90%
20-29 28.92%
30-39 22.77%
40-49 16.56%
50-59 11.78%
60-69 5.52%
70-79 2.04%
80-89 0.32%
90-99 0.02%

Guidance to help avoid online shopping and auction fraud

There are a few things you can do to mitigate the risk of online shopping and auction fraud. ActionFraud has suggested various steps both buyers and sellers can take.

Tips for buyers

  • Install the latest software updates to fend against criminals using weaknesses in software to steal data such as payment details.
  • Check the domain name carefully, and check the retailer is legitimate.
  • Check the seller’s review history and feedback, and keep an eye out for fake reviews.
  • Make sure you have a strong, separate password for your email so criminals can’t use your email to access other online shopping accounts.
  • Don’t click on a link in an unexpected email or text.
  • If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research on average prices on the market.
  • Where possible, avoid paying for goods by money transfers as they are not secure.
  • Be careful when using direct banking transactions to pay for goods.
  • Make sure transactions are secure. Look for the padlock symbol on the browser window and make sure the website begins with “https://” (the “s” stands for “secure”).
  • Don’t send confidential personal or financial information by email.
  • Use an online payment option such as PayPal, which helps to protect you.

Tips for sellers

  • Receive payment confirmation before sending goods.
  • Be careful about accepting cheque payments. Although cheques may clear, you are still liable if the cheque is forged or stolen.
  • Do not accept a cheque for a higher amount and refund the difference. This is a common fraud that only comes to light when the buyer’s cheque turns out to be stolen or forged.
  • Take pictures of items before posting them so you have proof of condition in case of a fraudulent claim.

If you believe you are a victim of online shopping and auction fraud, report it to Action Fraud.

Sources

  • Action Fraud
  • Office for National Statistics (UK)

For all media enquiries, please contact

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

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