The commercial website ‘Gumtree’ has become a particular target for the scammers, who advertise goods including expensive items such as cars at discounted prices.
However, when approached they ask for money to be paid up front – but the goods never arrive and the seller cannot be contacted.
While most of the bogus transactions are not carried out in Moray, Police are urging people to be wary of any offer that appears too good to be true and in particular where money is requested before goods are received or even viewed.
Sergeant Michael Irwine from Police Scotland has urged people to never disclose personal information to unknown sources, saying: “There have been various incidents that have come to our attention of people perhaps being too trusting when seeing advertisements online and going ahead and proceeding with bank transfers – ultimately falling victim to online scams.
“More often than not, the money disappears out of their account and the goods they believe they have purchased in good faith are never received.
“We just want to make people aware that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and we would like to take this opportunity to urge them to use their common sense when buying goods on online sales sites such as Gumtree.
“Similarly, for sellers, it’s important that they don’t send the item without first receiving payment for it. Also, it’s important to watch out for requests to use money transfer services like Western Union or MoneyGram. These services aren’t meant for sending money to someone you don’t know and are known to be used by online fraudsters.”
Millions of online transactions are carried out each year safely with expert advice being to use a service such as the online payment system ‘Paypal’, which when used correctly carries a raft of safety measures designed to protect both buyers and sellers.
Police Scotland added that if you have been the victim of fraud they should report it on 101.