Press Release

For immediate release

Online shopping scams increased by over a third during the first half of 2020

  • The total number of online shopping and auction fraud cases in the first half of 2020 was 40,900, up 11,000 compared to the first half of 2019
  • Losses from online shopping fraud reached £29.7 million in the first six months of 2020
  • Online shopping and auction fraud now represents two-thirds (65%) of all consumer fraud cases

22, October, 2020, LONDON –

Incidences of online shopping and auction fraud increased by over a third (37%) during the first half of 2020, reaching 40,900 cases.

This was an increase of 11,000 reports on the 29,900 for the same period last year, according to personal finance comparison site, which commissioned and analysed a freedom of information request to Action Fraud.

Online shopping and auction fraud is when a product is advertised in a misrepresenting manner on an online shop or auction site. It also includes when customers who buy products through these sites do not receive the items they purchased.

The FOI data revealed that a total of £29.7 million was lost between 1 January and 30 June this year, meaning that online shopping and auction fraud now represent two-thirds (65%) of all consumer fraud reports in 2020. A lot of the cases appear to involve big-ticket items, with the average loss per case being £726.

One of the reasons behind the rise in this type of fraud is the increase in popularity of online shopping during lockdown – ONS data shows that the total value of online shopping transactions increased by 33% when compared to the same period (1 January to 30 June) in 2019.

Is consumer fraud set to remain high in the latter half of 2020?

If the July data is anything to go by, the trend of increased consumer fraud may remain high and actually increase throughout the remainder of 2020. There were 9,090 reported cases of online shopping-related fraud in July 2020, 60% more than the 5,680 reports in July 2019.

Similarly the total reported losses increased in July 2020 to £6.3 million, which is up £1.5 million (31% increase) from July 2019. also found that Google search interest in “fraud” has increased by 14.3% since the beginning of July compared to the first 6 months of 2020.

Who is most affected by online scams?

Exactly 80% of all online shopping fraud victims were under the age of 50, with those in their 20s being the most likely to be a victim of online shopping fraud. Reports from this age group accounted for 29% of the total reports so far in 2020.

Regionally, London has the most incidences of online shopping fraud. The Metropolitan Police received 6,545 reports of online shopping fraud, which represents 16% of all the UK’s online shopping fraud cases in the first half of 2020.

Following the capital was the West Midlands and Manchester, with both areas reporting 4% of the country’s online shopping fraud. Guernsey reported the least, with only three cases over the six-month period.

To see the research in full visit:

Commenting on the findings, Jon Ostler, CEO at said:

“Unfortunately, it was always likely that the increase in online shopping would mean more people falling victim to scams. Although they can be hard to spot, there are a few things you can do to avoid scams when shopping online:

Use secure payment methods
“If you can, avoid paying for goods by bank transfers as they are harder to recover. Similarly, if you are paying online through a website make sure that it is secure. If you can see a lock icon on the left-hand side of the url bar, this means the website is secure. If you want to be extra careful, use a credit card or an online payment platform like PayPal which offer additional protection.

Contact the website you buy the product from
“If you experience an issue using a reputable online marketplace like eBay, then they advise you to contact the seller first to ensure they haven’t just been slow to post the item. If that doesn’t work, then these sites will have guidelines and help available to try and resolve the problem before you escalate the matter to your credit card issuer, payment service used or even the police.

Keep your details and passwords safe
“Never share your passwords with anyone and never send confidential personal or financial information by email. Additionally, make sure your passwords are strong and have a different password for each account or at least use a unique one for your email, so criminals can’t use your email to access your other online shopping accounts. Consider using a password manager like LastPass which will create very strong passwords for each online account, make sure you enable multi-factor authentication.

Make sure you have the most up-to-date browser and security software
“Installing the latest software updates will help to prevent fraudsters accessing and stealing your payment details through weaknesses in out-dated software. This can be easy to forget about but can make a big difference.”

Methodology obtained the data through a FOI request to Action Fraud on 18 August 2020 and through the Action Fraud dashboard. analysed how levels of fraud in January to June 2020 changed in comparison to January to June 2019 as well as a direct comparison between July in 2020 and 2019.


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